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24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: MT 18: 21-35

Today’s gospel speaks about forgiveness, which is one of the difficult things to practice in our lives, but we can do it by the grace of God. When we are forgiving, we are extending God’s grace to someone who really hurt us. We can notice that the word “forgives” in itself shows a “giving” something to others. When we forgive, we are giving someone a gift, that is giving ourselves to others and we are receiving God’s grace. When we refuse to forgive, we are hurting ourselves. God knows it is not easy to forgive, but God would not ask us to do something without giving us the strength to do it.

In the gospel story, we heard that Jesus said to Peter, “You must forgive not seven times but seventy- seven times,” which means we are called to forgive without any limit just as the king forgives the servant in the parable, just as God forgives each of us.

Let me share with you a meaningful story: Two friends were walking on the beach and on their journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in his face. The one who received the slap was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN MY FACE. They kept on walking on the shore of the sea and decided to take a bath in the seawater. Suddenly the person, who received the slap, started drowning in the water but his friend jumped in the water and saved his friend. After he recovered from the sea, he wrote on a stone: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE: The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you wrote on a stone, why?” The other friend replied, “When someone hurts us we should write in “sand” where the wind of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must write it in the “stone” where no wind can ever erase it.”

The Moral message of the story is – if someone did something bad in our lives, intentionally or unintentionally, let us try to forget and forgive, but never forget the good they did for us! When we show forgiveness and mercy to others, God will show the same forgiveness and mercy in return to us! This story is the real example of what Jesus said, “We must forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

During the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis declared that “Mother Teresa is the perfect saint for the Year of Mercy.” The Pope added that Mother Teresa was, “so aware of her need for mercy before God. She was very much at home with her own poverty. Mother Teresa used to say, “Calcutta is everywhere.” Mother says, “We need lots of love to forgive and we need lots of humility to forget. If we really want to love, we must learn to forgive.” Let us remember that forgiveness does not mean that we have to accept the behavior of another person but it means that we are granting ourselves permission to be happy and to move on in our lives and it is best for us and the other person, too.

Let us listen to the words of Pope Alexander, “To err is human but to forgive is divine,” which means we have the human nature to commit sins and mistakes, and God forgives them but God expects our cooperation. Let us take extra effort to practice the virtue of forgiveness in our daily lives!