“So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Forgiveness is never an easy topic. Today, Jesus drums the importance of forgiving others who offend us. Jesus says we should not even come to God to offer our gifts if our hearts are not completely reconciled with those who hurt us.
Now comes the big question: “How do I forgive?” Our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel gives us a clue about how God behaves. He does not relate with us according to our past! “If the wicked man turns away from his sins, he shall surely live. He shall not die… I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked… But when the righteous man turns away from righteousness and commits iniquity doing the same abominable things the wicked man does, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered.”
In other words, if we are to forgive, we must develop the habit of dying to our past. Too often, the past looks more real than the present, but it remains past. If we don’t allow our past to pass, it continues to hunt our present. Like a driver who fixes his gaze only on the rear-view mirror, we could cause accidents if we don’t look forward.
Has the past been painful? Then why are you still holding on to it? According to Elkhart Tolle, this is the insanity of humankind. We easily forget the good people do for us but we never forget the hurts people inflict on us. We hold on to our pain like children refusing to let go of some debris they picked up from the dustbin.
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, therefore, could be said to be something of a higher calling. Learn it, and grow daily in it. Start by letting go of little faults here and there. Just let go and let God.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, teach me to forgive. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Ezekiel 18:21-28, Ps. 130, Matthew 5:20-26).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu