Ezekiel 12:1-12, Ps. 78:56-59,61-62, Matthew 18:21-19:1

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” (Matthew 18:21).

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus warned us against unforgiveness. While teaching us to pray, Jesus included this wonderful phrase: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” He went on to add: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15).

With the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus teaches us that we would suffer greater consequences for our offenses if we fail to forgive those who sin against us. In other words, we either forgive or perish. Why is forgiveness such a hard thing to do?

First, forgiveness is painful, sacrificial, and unnatural. It is much easier to remember the faults of others than the good they do for us. Second, forgiveness is difficult because we place too high expectations on others. We forget that humans are weak creatures and that only God can be trusted. Jesus easily forgave his killers because he wasn’t expecting anything different from them. He said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

Third, we think that by removing certain persons completely from our life, we would be protected from them. We assume that our refusal to forgive will take them away but by so doing, we actually throw out both the baby and the bathwater.

Unforgiveness is highly poisonous. Carrying hate and bitterness in your mind affects your ability to think properly, it even affects your physical and mental health. Unforgiveness is like holding hot coals in your bare hands hoping to throw them at your offenders. Once a snake brushed a saw in the farmer’s tool shed and in anger the snake rolled itself around the saw hoping to crush it but the snake ended up committing suicide. Unforgiveness is suicidal. On the other hand, forgiveness is self-healing. It is releasing a prisoner only to discover you are the prisoner.

In our first reading, God tells Ezekiel to dress looking like someone going into exile to draw the attention of the people to repent of their sins. God himself forgives our sins. He never gives up on us. He never stops warning us and whenever we ask for His mercy, He is ever ready to take us back. Are you willing to take back your offenders?

Finally, remember that when it comes to forgiveness, the first person to forgive is yourself. Accept the fact that you are not perfect, that you can make mistakes. Once you can forgive yourself, put yourself in the shoes of the one who has hurt you and let go of the pain.

Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, give me the grace to forgive and quench every pain lurking within my heart. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saint Clare, Virgin. Bible Study: Ezekiel 12:1-12, Ps. 78:56-59,61-62, Matthew 18:21-19:1).

© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu