proving the necessity of forgiveness
"I canceled your entire debt when you pleaded with me. Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?" —Matthew 18:32-33
Jesus probably could not emphasize forgiveness more. He taught us to pray to be forgiven as we forgive those who have sinned against us (Mt 6:12). Jesus commanded us to forgive seventy times seven times, that is, indefinitely, or be handed "over to the torturers" (Mt 18:34). Even while hanging on the cross, Jesus prayed before His death: "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:34).
The last hundred years of international military history have illustrated the profound wisdom of Jesus' emphasis and insistence on forgiveness. World War I was billed as "the war to end all wars." However, World War II soon followed, after which came the Korean conflict and the Vietnamese War. Enemies were not forgiven, and thus came the "cold war" and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and then the terrorism of September 11, 2001. Without forgiving our enemies, we create a world of escalating war, violence, and terrorism.
When the world was gridlocked with unforgiveness, God was the first to forgive. He forgave us for our part through our sins in His crucifixion and death. Let us pass on Jesus' forgiveness of us to those who have sinned against us (Mt 18:32-33).
Prayer: Father, make me a peacemaker (Mt 5:9) and a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18).
Promise: "So let our sacrifice be in Your presence today as we follow You unreservedly; for those who trust in You cannot be put to shame." —Dn 3:40
Praise: Alice forgave the man who killed her daughter and, imitating Jesus, pleaded for mercy on his behalf.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on Forgiveness on audio AV 54-1 or video V-54.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Richard Walling, July 18, 2003
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 24, 2003