How often must I forgive my brother?
~ Matthew 18:21
Perhaps the “work” that best expresses faith is — forgiveness.
Jesus clearly saw that lack of forgiveness was one of the most blatant characteristics of the people around him, and he seemed to appreciate how hard it is to forgive absolutely and forever.
This is because we have no real grasp of what God has done and continually does for us.
Our lack of insight makes us critical, intolerant, unforgiving. We tend to think we have been splendid when we have taken a snub silently, overlooked what seemed like hurtful behaviour on the part of another.
It isn’t like that at all, Jesus says. You are bound to have pity and to forgive. It isn’t a work of supererogation but sheer bounden duty.
Think of the little things I take umbrage at, react to, or perhaps cope with quite virtuously according to my own estimation . . .
Now Jesus isn’t saying: ‘I understand, my poor dear; yes, you have been badly treated and you did very well not to lose your temper or answer back.’
On the contrary he is saying: ‘It is unthinkable that you should take any notice whatever of such things, and you wouldn’t if you had the slightest idea of what your heavenly Father is always doing for you. What if he were to treat you in that miserable, miserly, unloving way!’
~ A Meditation by Sister Rachel of the Quidenham Carmel (Ruth Burrows) O.C.D.
“I cannot believe that a soul which has arrived so near to Mercy itself, where she knows what she is, and how many sins God has forgiven her, should not instantly and willingly forgive others, and be pacified and wish well to everyone who has injured her, because she remembers the kindness and favors our Lord has shown her, whereby she has seen proofs of exceeding great love, and she is glad to have an opportunity offered to show some gratitude to her Lord.” — St. Teresa of Avila
“Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury is itself wrong. It adds to our anger, nurtures our sin, and hates what is good. It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul. It puts all virtue to flight.” — St. Francis of Paola
“‘If he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him’ (Lk. 17:4).
As the Searcher of hearts, the Lord knows that men are liable to very frequent trespass, and that, having fallen, they often rise up again; therefore He has given us the commandment to frequently forgive trespasses, and He Himself is the first to fulfill His holy word. As soon as you say from your whole heart, ‘I repent,’ you will be immediately forgiven.” — St. John of Kronstadt
May we always ask the Lord for the grace to forgive and to be forgiven!