Forgiveness

Matthew 5:38-42
1 Kings 21:1-16 / Psalm 5

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him also.
(Matt. 5:39)

It doesn’t mean that we are weak
If we should turn the other cheek;
Remember when you feel aggrieved,
Your best revenge is to forgive.

(Jesus said), “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Reflection

As one always prepared and willing to serve in the ministry of evangelization, I have always followed this verse in today’s Gospel: “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” (Mt.5:41) So when a dear friend who used to head the Divine Mercy Apostolate in Davao asked me to give a talk in their assembly on the topic of “Forgiveness” (with barely a few days to prepare), there was no hesitation to accept this privilege and opportunity to serve the Lord.

Forgiveness is an act of God’s grace that has both divine and human dimensions. In the divine dimension, it restores sinners back to their relationship with God when they repent. We cannot live in peace outside the sacrament of repentance; without it, our lives as Christians would be “out of synch” and tormented with guilt. In the human dimension, we are obliged to forgive those who have wronged us by acts and/or words of reconciliation and acceptance. We cannot expect to receive God’s forgiveness unless we in turn forgive those who have hurt us. Jesus teaches us that this is the primary condition for receiving God’s forgiveness. In the Lord’s Prayer and in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt.18:12-35) this is clearly qualified. Love is the essence of forgiveness. Jesus demonstrated this powerfully on the cross, when He asked forgiveness for His executioners. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

We have learned that genuine forgiveness also means complete forgetfulness. As the author, Robert Browning wrote, “It is good to forgive, but it is best to forget.” Many great men were noted for appreciating the value of forgiveness. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” My favorite quote about forgiveness is from the famous author, poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who once described the greatness of a man as one whose “heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong.”

By going an extra mile for another community, I realized that in a short period of time, I had grown wiser in learning about forgiveness from Scriptures and from the great minds of the past. God indeed rewards those who strive to know Him better.

You, o Lord, are the Source of all wisdom. Thank You for enlightening us about the values of service, repentance, and forgiveness. May these values remain with us all the days of our lives. Amen.

Leave a Reply