Our duty to forgive


March 21, 2017 Tuesday, 3rd Week of Lent
1st Reading: Dn 3:25, 34–43
Gospel: Mt 18:21–35
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.“This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants. Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand gold ingots. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, children and all his goods in payment.“The official threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.’ The king took pity on him and not only set him free but even canceled his debt.“This official then left the king’s presence and he met one of his companions who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost strangled him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ His companion threw himself at his feet and asked him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. His companions saw what happened. They were indignant and so they went and reported everything to their lord…. The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt.”Jesus added, “So will my heavenly Father do with you unless each of you sincerely forgive your brother or sister.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)

Forgiveness is central to God’s commandment of love. It is so vital that one who refuses to forgive is deemed disobedient to that commandment. But is forgiveness tied to the love commandment in a manner that when the commandment is abolished forgiveness also becomes irrelevant? The following anecdote will help us arrive at a sensible answer. A teacher wanted to impress upon his students that forgiveness is necessary for health. He asked them to wrap some potatoes in a plastic bag and tie the small bundle around their waists that week. Reporting to class, all students were complaining about the stench emanating from the plastic bag they had to bear for a week. The teacher said, “Grudges too can literally poison the person because the resulting emotional disturbance triggers the excretion of toxic acids into the body.”
Forgiveness is also a health issue. Thus even if the love commandment were to be abolished, we’d still need to forgive. For Christians, however, it is not just an option for healthy living but a calling necessarily implied by his baptismal commitment to the commandment of love. – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M.

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