The WORD in Other Words by Fr Bar Fabella SVD (Philippines)
Tuesday 3rd Week of Lent
Daniel 3:25, 34-43 Matthew 18:21-35
To preach and teach about forgiveness is one of the most difficult things to do. Even in simple things, our own experience tells us that the normal human response to offences is revenge.
Would you say thank you to a neighbour whose animals regularly feast on the products of your beloved vegetable garden and say, “Please send them again tomorrow! And please, you can do it 76 times more, and bring more goats if you can!”
Can you congratulate them further for having beautiful voices while not letting you sleep the whole night in the last seven days because of their videoke singing sessions?
While we are taught to forgive 77 times, I believe real forgiveness also means helping these people realize the error of their ways.
Teaching them simple sensitivity is as much our obligation as forgiving them. If in simple offences we find it hard to forgive, doing so to more violent offences would certainly take tremendous courage and humility.
Rape? Murder? Forgiveness…? It has been proven it can be done. While it takes a saint to do it, i.e. Pope John Paul II (forgiving Ali Agka his assassin) or St. Maria Goretti (forgiving her rapist) and countless other saints, we also personally know ordinary people who have completely forgiven heinous crimes committed against them.
There is no doubt about their source of strength – that power that comes from God who himself forgives without limit.
Let us remember though that while in small offences we are obliged to teach them the right path, we are as much obliged to make sure that justice is served in graver ones.