Last Sunday's Mass readings centered our attention on fraternal charity, fraternal correction. We have to heal the person who causes harm because he or she needs the healing more. The Rule of St Benedict and Pope Benedict had something to say about it. This coming Sunday's reading continues the theme of forgiveness. The Church in her wisdom keeps on reminding us of the facts that make up the Christian journey and how to live within these "facts" so that we thrive.
Basilian Father Thomas Rosica's reflections on this coming Sunday's readings on forgiveness are appropos.
What does it mean, "to forgive"? First of all forgiveness implies that there is something to forgive. Whether it's something big or small, the need for forgiveness means somebody has done something wrong. The Greek word used for "forgiveness" in today's parable means "to send away" or "to make apart." Forgiveness "sends away" whatever has been keeping people apart. Anger or feelings of vengeance are "sent away." By forgiving, one is no longer under the control of that past sinful act he suffered. We know that Jesus demands boundless forgiveness of his disciples. Forgiving and showing mercy, however are not always simple matters.
Forgiveness doesn't mean that the people will be reconciled immediately. Nevertheless, it begins the healing process and helps to remove feelings of revenge. To ignore Jesus' teaching on forgiveness has serious implications in this life and in the next. Do we really believe that our eternal destiny and salvation are harmed or hindered by our inability to forgive while we are on this earth? How do we do justice and show mercy? These are certainly not easy questions for us to answer and they surface in us a myriad of emotions that are also present in this parable.
The Church is called to break down the barriers that divide peoples, to build up relationships of trust and to foster forgiveness and reconciliation among peoples who have become estranged. As followers of Jesus we must be prophets of justice and peace, and always passionate about the suffering of humanity in our times.
Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
"Forgiveness Has Implications in This Life, the Next
Biblical Reflection for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time A"