Forgive from the heart

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30-28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.

Romans 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

In this Sunday’s Gospel Reading, we hear the story of a slave who has just been forgiven a debt of ten thousand talents by his king but would not forgive a fellow slave who owes him a much smaller sum of a hundred denarii. The slave throws his fellow slave into prison until the debt is repaid. The slave receives mercy from the king yet he does not show mercy to his fellow slave.

This reminds me of a grudge I bore against a cousin who bullied and wronged me when we were small children. For the longest time, I have not spoken with her and avoided her. Looking back, it was not a big deal but I felt the hurt of being belittled and ridiculed and carried that hurt into adulthood. Then I managed to be cordial with her, caught up with her when we met in family gatherings, but in my heart, the hurt stunk. After all these years, I was still harboring an enmity towards her. Why was that? What I failed then was to forgive her from the heart.

But we must forgive from the heart. This is what Jesus teaches us to do in this Sunday’s Gospel Reading, we must “forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). When we pray The Lord’s Prayer, we must mean what we pray when we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. We must forgive in order to be forgiven. From this moment on, let us “overlook faults” and forgive from the heart (Sirach 28:7).

Posted: September 17, 2017

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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