Jesus calls us to repentance and forgiveness.  And we heed his call in so far as we are ready to forgive our brothers and sisters.

The Gospel teaches that we are to avoid those who refuse to listen even to the community.  But the teaching is no reason not to forgive those who sin against us.

That is because highlighted immediately thereafter is the importance of forgiveness.  We must forgive not only seven times but seventy times seven.  In that way, too, Lamech’s seventy-sevenfold revenge meets its exact opposite.

To avenge oneself the way of Lamech means, in effect, unlimited revenge.  It is clear, then, that we must likewise forgive without any limit those who sin against us.  And we know nothing really of the prodigal Lord’s healing forgiveness unless we are willing to forgive our kin.

In other words, those receiving forgiveness and getting right with God are so joyful they leave without nourishing any anger.  The Lord’s forgiveness gives them a new lease on life; they feel raised up and wholly belonging to him.  They, then, cannot but forgive spontaneously and show tender compassion to others.  Lack of magnanimity puts into question the authenticity of repentance and forgiveness.

And those who feign repentance and forgiveness will have to account for their insincerity.  Perhaps one may say that it is their business if they like to lie and ruin themselves.  But the thing is that, because of them, those who do not believe revile the name of the Lord.  Insincere believers conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God, whose distinctive feature is mercy (SV.EN XI:328).

Lord Jesus, teach us to forgive.  And turn us into leaven of unity and peace in our communities.  Reconciled with one another, may we bring you pleasing offering.

17 September 2017
24th Sunday in O.T. (A)
Sir 27, 30 – 28, 7; Rom 14, 7-9; Mt 18, 21-35


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