Why must we forgive?

Published September 12, 2020, 10:10 PM

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD



Little Johnny was very upset with his brother Willy. Before he  said  his night prayers, Johnny’s mother said to him,  “Now  I want  you  to  forgive your brother.”

But Johnny  was  not  in  a forgiving mood. “No, I won’t forgive him,” he said. Mother  tried persuasions  of  every  kind,  but  nothing  worked.

Finally, she said, “What if your brother were to die tonight? How would you feel if you had not forgiven him?” Johnny  gave in — or so it seemed. “All right, I forgive him,” he said,  “but if he’s alive in the morning, I’ll get even with him.”

* * *

The topic of this 24th Sunday is about forgiveness. The king represents God who wishes to write off our debt of sin completely. However, there’s a condition. That is, we should also forgive our enemy.

It’s not easy to forgive as the opening story illustrates. How can you forgive an unfaithful spouse or someone who is backbiting you or has inflicted injury on a relative or even took his life or an unjust treatment from a superior or employer?

* * *

The human response to hatred and violence is to get even or take revenge.

However, the great advocate of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, said: “If you live by the principle of REVENGE or an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the whole world would be blind and toothless.”

* * *

Jesus on his part teaches that the condition of our own forgiveness is to forgive our enemies.

There is a common objection, however, saying, “If you are always forgiving a culprit, he will abuse your kindness and do the offence again.”  To forgive does not mean that we let criminals go free or that we leave society at their mercy. There are laws which enforce justice and impose the corresponding punishments.

The example of Pope John Paul II after the assassination attempt on his life is a case in point. Although the gunman had been forgiven by the Pope, he languished in jail until he had finished his prison term.

* * *

God wants us to live at peace and tranquility not only with one another but also with our enemies. And since we are human prone to frailties and sins, we need to forgive one another and seek reconciliation.

* * *

There’s an amusing story about a couple who broke up because of a misunderstanding and bitter quarrel. The  young husband wrote: “Dear Marietta, words cannot express my deep regret at having broken our relationship.  Your absence leaves an emptiness which no one else can fill. Please, let’s start all over again. Your ever loving and forgiving Johnny.”

A postscript (P.S.) followed: “Congratulations! I heard you won P20 million in the lotto.” 

* * *

It’s not too difficult to discern the real motive behind the sugar-coated words of “forgiving” Johnny. But if it’s a way of “starting all over again,” why not? The Lord wants us to do every means to reach out to achieve peace and reconciliation.

* * *

Is there anyone with whom you’re not on speaking terms? Do you find it hard to forgive an enemy?

Psychologists and social scientists say that harboring grudges and resentments literally help to make people sick physically and emotionally. And forgiveness–getting rid of the ill-will–will do more to make them well than pills and medicines.

* * *

Do you want to go through life living in hatred, resentment, and animosity? LIFE IS SHORT. It would be the greatest tragedy if we carry the heavy burden of a stony heart to our grave!

Forgiveness was so important in the mind of Jesus that when he taught the Lord’s prayer, he made it explicit, thus: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” We pray these words over and over in the Mass, but do we really mean them?

* * *

In today’s parable of Jesus Christ, God warns and reminds us: “If you do not forgive your brother/sister who has wronged you, your Heavenly Father will not forgive you either” (Matthew 6,15).

* * *

SUPPORT SEMINARIANS. A benefactor, Mr. Salvador Monroy, once wrote me, “I give because my money did not come from me alone but from God. My life in this world is limited. I have to prepare for the inevitable. I do this by sharing the blessings I received from God.”

* * *

It’s enrollment time again. How about donating an amount or sponsoring a seminarian’s schooling for one school year? For inquiry, e-mail me at: [email protected].