Our life is always a consequence of the action of other people. Sentiments in life will become sediments in our hearts. When what others do, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt and affect us negatively, we take the consequence of their action. Rather it is forced upon us. We don’t want to but we just happen to be in the way of that consequence. A sense of injustice rapidly blanket us. Sediments in our heart quickly turn into stones.
When we feel that we have become a victim of injustice, we naturally feel resentment and anger. Festering in us, these sentiments are like sediments slowly accumulating and soon enough we are filled with a thirst for vengeance. Unable to satisfy it, our heart become hardened with bitterness. Under the weight of despair from injustice, we swear we will never forgive.
Resentment, anger, vengeance, bitterness, un-forgiveness are heart stones. They are bad for our spiritual well-being. Weighed down by these stones our life cannot move away and we remain in the hole consequences have thrown us into. Today the readings offer us a lifeline. We are told the best way is to “Forgive”.
We are sometimes ourselves a consequence of a misconception of God. “If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord?” We are taught if we don’t forgive others, how can God forgive us? In all these we tend to see God in a harsher light: authoritative, demanding, expecting us to forgive first before he forgives us.
The truth is God is always forgiving. This is the nature of his unconditional love. He desperately want us to receive his forgiveness and the gift of new life that comes with it. But we cannot receive his gift of forgiveness if we have stones in our heart that block and choke this flow of love. Hence the meaning of our prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. In order for this to effect, he is asking us to hand over our stones.
Forgiveness on our part is a decision to let go of our stones. We need to reverse that vengeful cry that we will never forgive. Once we say “yes”, God will take care of the rest. We only need to pray once earnestly and sincerely. Asking for the grace to forgive is one of the purest intention in prayer; it is asking to allow love to flow through us. It is guaranteed that this prayer will always be answered.
The effects of forgiveness and the new life it brings will unravel itself in full over time. Reconciliation is a wonderful process. But we must not saddle ourselves with the expectation for the person who hurt us to be quickly re-integrated back into our daily life. Often it will not happen immediately. We allow God to handle that.
For us, we handle our stones. Forgiveness is consequently liberating. We hand over our stones in exchange for it. The consequence of letting go our heart stones is that love will be multiplied seventy seven times seven times.
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time