Thursday, August 13, 2015

Reflection: Matthew 18:22-19:1

Thursday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 18:22-19:1

Today Jesus continues the dialogue he began in yesterday’s Gospel reading. Peter comes to Jesus wanting some concrete answers. Peter asks Jesus: “If someone sins against me, how many times do I have to forgive them? Is seven times enough?” Jesus must have blown Peter away with his answer. He looked at Peter and says: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy times.” Wouldn’t you have loved to see the look on Peter’s face when he heard Jesus’ answer?

I assume all of us have been in Peter’s shoes, needing to forgive another person for the frustration, pain or anguish they may have caused us. And we feel “sinned against.” When someone sins against us, do we respond as Jesus calls us to do? Do we nurse a grudge? Or do we give the individual the silent treatment? Or perhaps we tend to blow up. Or do we immediately forgive the person? The reality is that we may not be able to immediately forgive the offender. Some sins against us are simply too painful, traumatic or demeaning. These sins may take decades to completely forgive.

Forgiveness is first and foremost a decision. Following the decision to forgive is the process of forgiving. Minor offenses may be forgiven more easily and immediately. However, some sins against us may take months or even years before we are able to completely forgive the person who wounded us. The first step is the biggest step: to make the choice to forgive. However, if we expect the hurt, anger and disappointment to immediately dissipate, most likely we will be deeply disappointed in ourselves as well as frustrated. Once we take this first step of deciding to forgive, we may experience more freedom, peace and joy. In this process, we not only “release” the offender, we also release ourselves!

Today examine your relationships and ask yourself: whom do I need to forgive? Am I willing to forgive? If the answer is yes, ask God to give you the grace you need to free the other person and yourself! God will grace you with an open and free heart!

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