The Balm Of Forgiveness

The theme of yesterday’s Mass reading from Matthew 18:21-35 was  FORGIVENESS. The above passage ends with the judge handing the unforgiving person over to the torturers and Jesus saying, “ so will my heavenly father do to you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.” (Mt. 18:35) Forgiveness is extremely  important to God. 

This theme was picked up in many different places yesterday….. in parish homilies, in various books and meditations, in quotes from famous saints, not to mention the Our Father  where our own forgiveness is made conditional on our forgiving others. If I had to sum up the essence of all these various pronouncements, I would say it’s really stupid to not forgive…. it’s the proverbial “shooting yourself in the foot”. Listen to these thoughts by some pretty holy people:

  • “Like sin, an unforgiving heart is a snare that imprisons us in the past, preventing us from moving forward… without forgiveness we live in a maze that leads nowhere…. forgiveness is freedom” (Fr. David Barnes, Dir. Of Spiritual Formation, St. John’s Seminary, Boston, Mass.; Magnificat Lenten Companion,3-13-23)
  • “I forgive Lord and give you permission to take the judgement and bitterness out of my heart…. I surrender my right to be paid back for my loss.” (Fr. Richard Carton, St. Vincent’s Church, Stirling , NJ)
  • “Unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting your adversary to die” (Msgr. William Benwell, St. Mary’s, Watchung,NJ)
  • Mother Teresa said, “Non-forgiving can destroy you for life. Show me a bitter sister and I will show you a proud sister: a bitter sister is always a proud sister also. Bitterness and pride are twin sisters- moodiness goes with it. A humble sister will not be bitter or moody. Examine yourself…. only when we know we need forgiveness can we forgive.” (“Writings of Mother Teresa”, Magnificat, 3-14-23)

Forgiveness is not always easy to extend to someone who has hurt us. Forgiving requires humility. If I’ve never come to realize the wretchedness of my own sins and even wept over my sins, and then received mercy and forgiveness from the Lord, then it’s hard to forgive. My self-righteousness can prevent me from forgiving. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, her sins which are many are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47) So, he who is forgiven much, loves much. 

Receiving mercy from the Lord allows that mercy to overflow to others. Mercy gives us a heart of forgiveness.  When we have trouble forgiving, let us fall on our knees and ask the Lord to show us our own sins and how they have hurt the Lord and hurt our brothers and sisters. When we then see our merciful Lord offering us forgiveness, then we will be quick to forgive those who have offended us.

Mercy and Forgiveness ….. the wonderful love of God poured out on us and overflowing to a desperate world. It brings peace and joy and happiness… the beautiful  foretaste of heaven…… what good news.

One thought on “The Balm Of Forgiveness

  1. Lord I forgive all who have hurt me and pray that others will forgive me for hurting them🙏 Thank you Jesus for all the mercy you have given me🙌🏻♥️


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