The Divine in Us

August 17, 2017
Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Today
Matthew 18:21–19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

REFLECTION (Sem. Rodel D. Aclan)

When Jesus said that we should forgive not only seven times but seventy- seven times, He meant that we should forgive unlimitedly. This seems to be impossible for man to do. Perhaps the saying “ to err is human and to forgive is divine” is true. We can err endlessly but to forgive once or twice is already almost impossible for us to do. Forgiving is in the realm of the Divine.

Today, this attitude towards forgiving is shared by many. In fact, many people would hold on to their anger and bad feelings for years against people especially their loved ones who caused them much pain. Definite and firm oaths of not forgiving them are uttered by those who are hurt. Thus, the call of Jesus seems to be unattainable and impossible to fulfill.

Jesus, of course, will not impose on us a task that is beyond our capability to fulfill. We are not made to suffer the unacceptable feeling of defeat and smallness before those who transgress us, as we would usually associate forgiving with. We can always draw inspiration from Jesus who suffered tremendously and was crucified because He wanted to gain forgiveness for our sins.

As I continue to respond to my vocation, all the more this invitation of Jesus to be forgiving and compassionate reverberates in my awareness. As a priest in the future, I will become an instrument and dispenser of Jesus’ mercy and compassion. That’s why every occasion of pain and hurt inflicted on me is an opportunity to grow in compassion.
Yes, we can forgive endlessly. Why? Because we too experienced unlimited forgiveness form Christ. We know our sins, and they are many, some are grave, some are venial but just the same, we received forgiveness regardless of the number of times and gravity of our sins.

Lastly, I would like to regard forgiving not just an act of obeying the command of Jesus, but also an act of gratitude and thanksgiving for the forgiveness and compassion that I have been shown.

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