(Part 62)


August 13, 2015

Today’s gospel:  Matthew 18:21-19:1

Yesterday we looked at how to handle a brother who sins against you. The process is for the sake of unity, peace and good order in the community, which is tasked by God to do the work of the New Evangelization. Aside from going through the process, there is one more important thing to do, and that is to forgive the offender.

This is not dependent on the brother’s asking you for forgiveness. And this is not dependent on how many times the brother keeps sinning against you. “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (v.21). Notice that Peter did not say the brother had asked for his forgiveness. And if he had to forgive as many as seven times, then it probably meant the offender, even if he had asked for forgiveness, was insincere. Jesus’ answer was surprising to Peter. “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” (v.22). That means without limit.

That is just following in the example of Jesus. How many times do we keep sinning against him with the same sins? If we did not, then we would have no need of going to confession over and over again. We should be very happy that he forgives us time and again!

In giving us the proper motivation and perspective, Jesus tells of the parable of the unforgiving servant (v.23-35). It is hard to forgive those who sin against us, especially those who continuously sin against us. But our brother’s sin against us is nothing compared to our sin against God, whom we sent to be crucified on the cross. If Jesus forgave us, so too should we forgive others their much lesser sins.

If we do not, the consequences—no, not for the brother who sins against us—for us will be dire. God will also not forgive us. Then we will suffer the consequences of remaining in our unforgiven sin.

In the call to the New Evangelization, we should see that we need to be united in heart and mind to effectively do the work. If there is conflict and disunity, then it will negatively affect the work. This is why we need to go through the community process of addressing a brother who sins against us (see yesterday’s From the SG), and this is why we need to forgive those who sin against us. This is the only way to stop the enemy from inflicting deep harm on the community by means of division among the brethren.

In fact we go further. When a brother speaks an angry or maligning word against you, do not respond in kind. Rather, know that it would be your response in kind that will cause the conflict or division. What? I am the one maligned and I am the cause of the division? Yes. So just forgive.

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