FORGIVENESS: CONDITION FOR DIVINE BLESSING. Prayer Reflection for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Yr. A.

One of the most difficult teachings of Christ is that of forgiveness and love of one's enemies. Many ask: how can I forgive those who deliberately offends me or seek my downfall? It is difficult! It is painful! Yes, it is difficult but not impossible. There are several reasons why we must forgive those who offend us and move on if you wish to know why, read slowly:

(Ecclesiasticus 27:33-28:9)

Resentment and anger, these are foul things,
and both are found with the sinner. He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin. Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins? Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins? Remember the last things, and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will; remember the covenant of the Highest, and overlook the offence.

POINTS FOR REFLECTION

1. Have you seen why you must forgive
Your offenders? It is a condition for God's forgiveness for your failings and answer to your prayers.

2 I hear you ask: But how many times must I forgive? Some persons offend you deliberately only to seek your forgiveness! Now listen to what the Word says again: (c.f Matthew 18:21-35)
Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

3. Child of God, Peter, who is the Head of the Apostles and the church represents the mind of all Christians with his question. He pours out our hearts in our habits of nursing grudges and counting the number of offences. The number 7 symbolise completeness or perfection, and in relation to this question means: "Should I still forgive my neighbour after offending me for a perfect period of time? Should I still forgive when my offender has completely shown signs of unrepentance? Jesus multiplies the value by 10; which symbolises God's authority over all and also symbolises responsibility, law and completeness. By this Christ is passing a new law (we could say an 11th commandment) overall and extending forgiveness as the responsibility we have towards others until the very end of offence! Meaning forgive till there's no more offence!

4. But this is hard you say! Is God insensitive to our pains? How can God be just to demand forgiveness from me after the pains inflicted on me by my offender? Don't I have the rights to be sad, heartbroken, and even get some consolations to see my offender suffer repercussions for the harm done to me? How can I forgive a husband who habitually cheats on me; or a wife who betrayed my love for her and cheats on me? How can I forgive that business partner who stole my share of the proceeds and leaves me in abject poverty? How can I forgive the person who raped me, left me traumatised and pregnant? How can I forgive a serial killer if I discover he killed those I love? And God still demands I love and pray for them. No this is hard, I can't take this! The list is endless; yes the endless list of questions.

5. Child of God, forgiveness is for the strong and not for the weak. God does not ask us to do the impossible but something very possible. God does not abandon His children to the mercy of their enemies but protects their rights! God protects your rights by asking you to forgive, love your enemies and do good to them because that is the only weapon you have in your arms to combat the evil: destroy evil with good, not evil with evil! 
[If you wish to know how Forgiveness is a weapon against your enemy, Click here to read THE POWER OF THE GOOD]

TASK: Go before a crucifix or Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and call to mind all those who have offended you. Begin to tell God: I forgive them! Mention their names and repeat 7 times: N.....I forgive you in Jesus name. And Pray: O God you asked me to forgive my offenders so that I can be forgiven and my prayers answered; Hear O lord this prayer I make in your name (mention your prayer intentions) and grant my requests in Jesus name. Amen.

I pray for you: May the Lord not cast you away from his presence but continue to renew your spirit as your heart opens to his Divine Words. Amen.

©Fr. Simone Madu, OSJ

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