FORGIVING LOVE

Wednesday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time

            Today’s gospel reading deals with the very important matter of forgiveness and reconciliation that must happen among brothers and sisters. It serves as a blueprint or pattern on how to go about the difficult task of fraternal (sisterly) correction.

            We must do everything to be reconciled with one another. Do not let endless days and nights be ruined by your stubbornness and refusal to forgive and be forgiven, and be reconciled. Life is just too short for that nonsense! There are better and more important things to do than feeling slighted, abused and victimized…than finding faults and failings with others…than making judgments and telling gossips to get even.

            The Lord’s instruction in today’s gospel is very clear: When you are hurt or some wrong has been done to you, you are to express that hurt to the one who has done the harm and not to everyone in your barangay. We owe it to ourselves, our peace and well-being, to be honest about our feelings – to share them openly with the one who has offended us. (James Menapace)

            The Lord has given us the power to forgive. When we are unwilling to exercise that power of forgiveness we bind ourselves in sin – we get trapped in a bitter past, we remain burdened by anger and resentment. Where there is no forgiveness, there is no love. And love is the hallmark of a Christian.

            The Lord is telling us about when, how and to what extent do we correct those who sin against us. Genuine care (love) shows itself in the interest we take for the welfare of others and in the help we offer them to be better Christians, to be better persons. Such a loving concern will sometimes also take the form of admonishing and warning someone who is doing evil. That is what we call tough love.

            A true Christian with genuine concern and love for his or her neighbor is not afraid to engage in fraternal (sisterly) correction. However, we must keep in mind what somebody said: “People will not care what you know until they know that you care.” This is absolutely true in the context of fraternal (sisterly) correction. In admonishing and correcting a brother or a sister, we should really try first to make him or her feel our genuine care and concern – nothing less.

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