HOMILY THURSDAY OF THE 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE II
THEME: FORGIVENESS IS CONDITIONAL.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul
HOMILY FOR THURSDAY AUGUST 11 2022
‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?’
If God was only interested in right and wrong, He wouldn’t have wanted connection with us in the first place. God cares about more than principles. His first desire is relationship. In the Gospel of today (Matthew 18:21-35), Peter asks Jesus, ‘how many times should I forgive someone?’ Is seven enough? After that, can I carry on hating them? Then Jesus replies shows that there is no limit. If you are sincerely loving someone, you must keep your forgiveness generous and don’t put a limit on it.
Jesus tells a story about a servant who couldn’t pay his debt. He begged his master to take the debt away, and he did. But then someone owed that servant money, and he refused to take their debt away. The servant had been shown kindness and grace, but refused to show the same kindness and grace to the person who owed him money. And the same is true when we don’t forgive people. So, before we go to God, let us make sure we have shown the same grace to those who have hurt us as is shown to us. It is what you give to others that God gives you. It is the basic principle that guides divine dealings. If you give mercy, you get mercy. If you give love, you get love. If you give condemnation, you will be condemned. With this, you are no longer worried about how God will judge since you already know from our dealings with one another.
We can often try and avoid the process of forgiveness because we think it is like letting someone off the hook for what they have done. But forgiveness doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with or want a closer relationship with the person who mistreated us. It does mean that we let it go, which prevents bitterness from building up inside us. The Bible says: ‘To be greater is to forgive the one who has treated you badly.’ The process of forgiveness can be challenging, and it might take us longer than we think it will. We often need to work through lots of emotions, thoughts, and resentments that have built up. Uprooting these things is hard work, but God will give us the strength we need to be able to do it
Of course, the rules do exist, and how we behave matters to God. We can’t just do whatever we like, expecting God to overlook our wrongdoing. But if our first care goes to right relationships and real love, then we won’t spend our time obsessing over the ‘sin score cards’ and judging others. Our focus will be on forgiveness without limit, because we love people more than laws.
Physically and spiritually, the benefits of forgiveness are ours. We put ourselves in the right relationship with God, set out hearts free from the heavy burden of hatred, bitterness and resentment. By forgiving others, we destroy our own sins.
When we hold on to resentment it feels like there is a war going on inside of us. We end up in a battle with ourselves, as well as others. Bitterness takes us over and we are left hurt and angry. We are constantly trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong. We can end up spending so much time trying to out-do, out-shout, and out-manoeuvre others that we lose our peace and joy. Sound familiar? Resentment can take root in us all. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can end our conflicts with others and let go of resentment. That seems easier said than done. When bitterness has taken hold of us, it can be very challenging to let things go. But we can’t allow someone else’s actions to determine our reactions.
We can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we respond to it. When we hold on to bitterness and resentment, we not only keep conflicts going, but we also deny ourselves the opportunity to heal. We are the ones who remain unhappy and hurt, when God has designed it that we should hand it all over to Him and exercise forgiveness instead. The Bible says that ‘hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs’ (Proverbs 10:12). We need to let the love and peace of God fill our minds so much that it overflows to others – including those who have upset us. Do we really want to be like the person who hurt us? GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our world, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning
Fr. Karabari Paul