“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
Forgiveness is never an easy topic. Today, Jesus drums into us the importance of forgiving others who offend us. We should not even come to God to offer our gifts without first making peace and reconciling with those who hurt us. Now comes the big question: “How do I forgive?”
Our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel answers this question: Die to the Past every minute. God is able to forgive so easily because He forgets our past. “But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right… none of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him… Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23)
Never seek pleasure in the death of the sinner or in seeing the wicked perish. Never assume that unless you take revenge, you cannot be happy. Let the past pass, otherwise, the past will continue haunting your present. It is not what they did to you that is making you sad, rather, it is your refusal to forgive and allow the past die that is stealing your joy.
According to Elkhart Tolle, holding on to past hurts and injuries is the insanity of humankind. You don’t like something but you refuse to let it go. We easily forget the good things people do for us but we never forget the hurts inflicted on us. We hold on to our pain like children refusing to let go of some debris they picked up from the dustbin.
We may claim that we are looking for justice, meanwhile, God has a totally different idea of justice. As we hear in our first reading, God’s definition of justice is not the death of the sinner (retaliation or revenge) but the repentance of the sinner. This is what gives God joy.
Jesus began today’s Gospel passage by saying “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Forgiving others is one way of practicing righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees. No wonder they say, “to forgive is divine.” Those who truly forgive are living saints.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to forgive those who trespass against me. Amen.
Bible Study: Ezekiel 18:21-28, Psalm 130 and Matthew 5:20-26).