Forgive from the heart

by Shiu Lan
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30-28:7

Romans 14:7-9

Matthew 18:21-35

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).