Ezekiel: 12: 1-12
Matthew 18: 21-19:1
Feast of St Clare of Assisi
Our Gospel today brings the theme of forgiveness to the forefront in a very direct and challenging way. We often witness the most amazing stories of people who forgive some incredibly harmful and hurtful actions and we may wonder how they do it! Equally we hear stories where similar actions lead people to desire revenge which lead to further harmful acts being committed.
Let’s reflect for a moment on forgiveness. Forgiveness means different things to different people but generally speaking it means choosing to let go of resentment and the desire for vengeance. We do this in the belief that, although the hurt may always be with us, forgiveness may lessen its power and free us from the control of the person who hurt us in the first instance. In a sense forgiveness breaks a cycle because as we know all too well ‘hurt people hurt’, war, as is often evident, creates the agenda for the next war. The cycle needs to be broken and that takes courage and above all grace.
I am sure that forgiveness is something we all find challenging when we are deeply hurt. However, the teaching of Jesus leaves us in no doubt that forgiveness is a central quality or virtue required of a Christian, one that will be asked of us again and again. We also know that reconciliation would make so many areas of our world so much more conducive to healthy living and caring communities.
It is helpful to see forgiveness as a process and one that we can engage in with God’s grace and of course we have the example of Jesus when he prayed ‘Father, forgive them they do not know what they are doing.’ Let’s pray that more and more we can be reconcilers and encourage forgiveness as a way of setting one another free.
Sister Brigid Murphy CP
Sisters of the Cross & Passion,