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Never Forget, Forgive Always

August 14, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014; Nineteenth Thursday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 12:1-12.  You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on.

Matthew 18:21 – 19:1I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

 

Gospel Reflection:

Praised be Jesus Christ! For evermore!

This Gospel always made me squirm in my seat.  Every instinct in our bones makes us want to jump up, rail against the injustice – at the top of our lungs – and demand some sort of satisfaction, some pound of flesh.  Like we would have any use for that!?  And how many family gatherings have been attended where maybe we just aren’t talking to someone because of a long ago transgression and now we just sit with our grudges, cold. Plotting.  And how many times do we even forget the original reason we aren’t talking?!?!

The Lord tells a parable today that makes a little sense, until we break it down a little, and realize just how much God truly loves us.  In the Ignatius Study Bible Second Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version, Scott Hahn breaks down just how much mercy God has.  In the RSV, the first servant owes ten thousand talents.  One talent is equivalent to 6,000 denarii, based on back-in-the-day fair exchange rates.  This was equivalent to about 20 years wages for a laborer!  It was an incalculable debt impossible for that man to repay.  That would be the debt we owe.  That debt was paid, by Jesus Christ.  The second man, representing those that have offended us, owes 100 denarii, or 100 days wages.  Certainly repayable.  But how many times do we not let those debtors back into good graces?  I know someone who has been holding a grudge since 1972.  The other person is not even alive.  Gods capacity for forgiveness is limitless, and we are to model ourselves after Jesus, to live in the likeness of the Christ.  How many times Lord?  Not seven, but seventy-seven; in other words: limitless.  No limit to forgiving.

Hatred is not a creative force.  Only love is a creative power.

When two people in my family were assaulted years ago, we went to trial and that perpetrator went to jail.  In the courtroom, I forgave him.  I felt like an entire scaffold of bricks fell off my shoulders.  I felt years younger.  Not roll over, not acquiesce, or approve.  A wise Navy Chaplain told me, “Always forgive, never forget.  Stand up for righteousness sake, never wilt.  But always forgive.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe had probably earned the right to be a little irritated with his captors, with his executioners.  Do you think he held a grudge into the gas chamber?  No of course not.  He wrote, “Hatred is not a creative force.  Only love is a creative power.”  Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

Amen.

Peace,

Papa

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