YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: FORGIVENESS IS SELF-HEALING.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus hits the nail on the head as far teaching about forgiveness is concerned. More than once, Jesus warned us against withholding forgiveness. While teaching us to pray, Jesus included this wonderful phrase: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” He went on to add, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15.
In the same vein, Jesus today uses a parable to warn us about suffering greater consequences for our offences if we fail to forgive those who sin against us. In other words, we either forgive or perish. The question is: “why is forgiveness such a hard thing to do?” The answers are not far- fetched.
One, forgiveness is painful, sacrificial and unnatural. It is much easier to remember the faults of others than the good they do for us. We have this strong belief that our peace of mind or joy hangs upon our ability to revenge or inflict pain upon our offenders. We naturally assume forgiveness is senseless, unfair and suicidal. But these beliefs are clearly false!
The reason we don’t forgive is that there is a sweet feeling we derive from holding on to our pains; the sweetness of being able to talk negatively about our offenders and in the process, we blow up issues out of proportion. We enjoy the feeling of having someone listen to us and sympathizing with us while we destroy others. In short, unforgiveness is sweet poison! If only we realize how connected we are as humans and that this world is such a small place, we would forgive more easily.
Another reason forgiveness is so hard is because we tend to place very high expectations on people; sometimes, even higher than those we place on our very selves. And so, when these expectations are not met, we interpret it as deliberate attempts by others to hurt us when in reality, they are simply being themselves. If I take a shovel and expect it to serve as a spoon, wouldn’t I be the one at fault? I may hold on to my pain against shovel as long as I can, but in the end, my pain only affects me while the shovel remains convinced it did nothing wrong.
The easiest way to forgive is to drop our outrageous expectations of perfection from mere imperfect creatures and realize only God deserves such expectations. Jesus easily forgave his killers because he wasn’t expecting anything less from them. He said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. What stops me from making excuses for my offenders?
If unforgiveness is sweet poison, then forgiveness is bitter medicine. Swallow your pride today, drop your anger against the shovel for mistaking it for a spoon. Realize that your inner healing is more important and more beneficial than any amount of revenge or pain you can inflict on your offenders. Forgiveness is self- healing, it cleanses not only our pains but our sins as well.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to quench the fire of hurts and pain which continue to lurk deep within my heart. Amen
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time: Bible Study: Ezekiel 12:1-12, Psalm 78:56-62, Matthew 18:21-19:1).