Forgive your brother and sister from your heart.
Matthew’s teaching on reconciliation, forgiveness and correction is rich, many-sided and down-to-earth. Last Sunday’s gospel on correction is juxtaposed with today’s super-clear parable about the unforgiving servant. Rather than leave it there, Matthew’s clarifies the already abundantly clear message with the alarming observation: This is how my Heavenly Father will deal with you if you do not forgive your brother and sister from your heart.
In Matthew’s mind, this is no quid pro quo. Instead, all in grace. Paradoxically, our capacity to receive and retain this grace is inseparably linked to our own practice of forgiveness. It’s not a deal; it’s a matter of the heart. It is existential rather than transactional and the paradox is only apparent.
His teaching may be summarised as follows:
- Firstly, God’s forgiveness is grace, grounded in God’s compassion, that is, in God’s own nature.
- Secondly, those who receive this grace must, in response, live the gift that they themselves have received.
- Thirdly, it is foolhardy to put a limit on the practice forgiveness.
Hence, seventy-seven! Or even seventy-seven times seven…in some manuscripts. What’s at stake is consistency and our own integrity as believers.
The YouTube videos are intended to be a further exploration of the Gospel, with an eye to spiritual, pastoral and practical concerns.
Some inspiration from Henri Nouwen
“To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, “I no longer hold your offence against you” But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the “offended one.” As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.”
For a fuller treatment: here.
Dr Kieran J. O’Mahony OSA
Biblical Studies Coordinator
Holy Cross Diocesan Centre