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Saturday, September 12, 2020

In Forgiveness there is no Maths

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Readings: Sirach 27:30–28:7; Psalm 103:1–4, 9–12; Romans 14:7–9; Matthew 18:21–35
Enmity bothers us. Hatred destroys us. Forgiveness liberates us. As many of us would be spending this Sunday in our homes and communities, our liberator Jesus invites us to be free, free from hatred, enmity, anger, hostility, animosity, revenge, resentment, jealousy, repugnance, arrogance, scorn and so forth and become persons of forgiveness, meekness and kindness.  As we get stuck in our houses and communities continuously without having much recourse to other activities with the outside world due to this never ending pandemic, many of us must be feeling of boredom, resentment and frustration. During this time we would be feeling psychologically the tension building within us. The inability to go for confessions, spiritual direction, Holy Mass or just have friendly chat with a person whom we know and love must be giving way to mental strain thus increasing within us rueful tension. We may not be noticing such elements but certainly others must be watching over you.
I
Mercy and forgiveness at the heart of Christian life
During this unprecedented time, for us Christians the only source of strength is Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we should find freedom and liberation. His spoken words in the scriptures enable us to find freshness and warmth for our lives. Perhaps we should be moved by the beautiful words of St Paul uttered to the Romans that "none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord" (Rom 14:7-8). When we think about ourselves constantly, we lose sight of our God. Wu-Hsin says "the central problem is not that you think too highly of yourself; nor it is that you think too lowly of yourself; instead, it is that you think constantly of yourself." Probably that must be the reason why we are so much worried about our self image. According to the early Church Fathers we are imago Dei, the image of God. Our self image comes from God and not by the kind of posts I hold in society, institution, company or congregation or degrees I earn or how beautiful I look externally. The Christian image of a person is one who goes out of himself or herself to be nothing before the infinite mercy and forgiveness of our God. "The wicked servant" that Jesus mentions in the Gospel reading today has place only in the jail (Matt 18:32-34). There is no liberation for the one who does not want to liberate others. The book of Sirach wisely reminds us: Often we cherish our wrath, nourish our anger, refuse mercy to those who have done us wrong. Mercy and forgiveness are life giving and liberating. They have infinite source of goodness and holiness. To err is human but to forgive is divine. In the messiness of our lives these elements of forgiveness and compassion are difficult to spring forth. You don’t get through life without hurting others and being hurt. And yet there is a hope in the words of  our Lord "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt 5:7).
II
Forgiveness is release from imprisonment
In the parable of today (Matthew 18:21–35), we come across only the King, who is a free person. Rest all his servants owned debts either to the king or to one another. The bondage was so immense, there was hardly any way out except keeping their wives or children as ransom and still the servants would not be able to pay back. The tragedy is that when the wealthy slave whose inconceivably enormous debt was written off, instead of becoming liberated and free turns out to be selfish to the core. He forgot to utilise his new gained freedom. Unfortunately, he gets himself imprisoned in his new freedom of debt free man. His supposedly liberation leads him to become more sinful than before. The way he treats his fellow servant who had owed him low debt is miserably heartening.  The hardness of liberated person goes on multiplying even to the point of putting the fellow servant in the prison. The vicious cycle of sin bondages the wealthy servant to such an extent that only place he realises worthy for his selfishness is prison and revocation of his forgiven debt. Wickedness of the person has a limit and that limit is unending cry in the isolated cell of darkness. The more you are forgiven more freer and compassionate you should be. We cannot be freer for ourselves alone. To be a liberated person means to liberate another, otherwise it is mere existence. As Christians, we live for the Lord and for each other. When we live in Christ we are released from the imprisonment in the narcissistic bubble of the self.
III
Forgiveness is unlimited and knows no counting
The fruit of forgiveness is solidarity. Forgiveness is a free gift, a divine gift. Being unselfish demands our whole hearted readiness to give, give without counting even until it hurts us. An authentic forgiveness helps to recognize that we can become better, deeper and more compassionate people from experiencing the hurts others inflict on us. This is the puzzle of life we are called to live as good Christians. We can be forgiving people when we make amends to everyone whom we have hurt. In spite of our limitedness, vulnerability, finiteness and craziness our Lord is there to release us into freedom and restore us to life. We may feel so stupid and unworthy, but the mercy of our Lord is immense and beyond the measures of this world. That is why Christian freedom is not private possession that I own up and refuse to give to others. We could be truly free when we allow others and God to come into our lives and walk with and for each other and for God. The assurance from God is always there - “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven” (Sirach 28:2). The chains of unfreedom always loom over us when we refuse the freedom to others even though the doors of the prison may be open. So we forgive each other from the heart, overlook each other’s faults, and await the crown of His kindness and compassion.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

13 September 2020

8 comments:

Therese said...

Thank you father Olive. Very precious sharing.

Joilin said...

"To err is human but to forgive is Divine." This phrase speaks volumes in your article.
Infact dear Father,this article is a boon to the readers, who want to experience the miraculous touch of the forgiveness of God and human. It's exclusively a wake-up call for all who grope in the darkness of the ignorance of God's mercy and compassion. Very inspirational! Thanks.

lijiserin@gmail.com said...

Dear rev.frOlvin,
As I read and reflect on your writing, I felt you are a man, gifted with God's words. You writing are incredibe and gives us amazing experiences . I really appreciate your generosity and heart touching words, your words speaks lots about your faith, your determination to
be strong in the darkest moment. Really you are an inspiration for all. Let your writing and life may be an instrument to transform the life of the people. Thank you so much fr. for updating with new wisdom and insight. You are an angel of words, who plays with it in the rythme of God's Love.

Vincy said...

Dear Olvin,
Your article reminds me of my entire journey of life till the date and it takes me to the flashback journey of my life, the reason I hope to share with you very soon. Thanks for the amazing experience your article has given me.
It's rightly said,"It's not the book but the author who produced it, is worth remembering." I'm extremely happy to note that people come forward with the words of gratitude to you. And I wish many more may get to know the wonders and miracles your article works with the one who initiates to read and reflect. I'm very grateful to you!

Sebi said...

Blessed morning dear Father! Thanks for blessing me. Infact " No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks." From the bottom of my heart "Thank you" is the only prayer I can offer to your astonishingly appreciable article, for lighting a flame within me. Hope it does the same with others too. Nice to start my day with your work! Very big thanks to you Father!

Unknown said...

Father for your kind information,
I would like to share my thoughts here. " An Average player wants to be left alone,a good player wants to be coached and a great player wants to be told the truth." Since I'm an avid reader of your article, very truly I tell you, your articles makes me become a best version of myself.

Anonymous said...

Very touching and powerful words father. I will use this reflection for my prayer today.

Anonymous said...

Very important message in the current scenario Fr. Olvin! Where, the ego is growing like mountains between countries, states and people! My son keeps reminding me of this noble virtue, when we have an argument!