A Message from Fr. Jay
The theme of the readings this weekend is forgiveness. It triggers my memory on a few past occasions when I had to forgive others or ask for forgiveness from someone. Without going into detail, I can say that of all those moments, I felt it so easy to forgive others rather than pleading for forgiveness from someone. I have had to apologize to others possibly out of fear, out of compulsion or insistence from authorities or to shun further complications.
There were a few moments or events where I had to make a genuine plea for forgiveness. It took time to fight my ego, my own justifications, self-respect and fear of being defeated. With proper rationalization and spiritualization of these emotions, I am now able to see the goodness and love of the other person. I can feel the light and it is now easier to reach the other person and apologize. With the help of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I experience the Grace of God!
In his homily on today’s gospel, a Jesuit Priest from India, Fr. Jerome, imagines the conversation between Jesus and Peter in this fashion:
Peter: Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?
Jesus: Peter, your question is pretty surprising to me. ‘How often should I forgive my brother?’ It is like asking me, ‘How often should I breathe?’ If you don’t breathe, you die. If you don’t forgive, you die too.
The simple formula… Forgiving = breathing.
Pope Francis preached the following in one of his retreats in 2017:
“There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents, we are not perfect, we do not marry a perfect person or have perfect children. We have complaints from each other. We disappoint each other. So there is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes an arena of conflict and a stronghold of hurt.
Without forgiveness, the family becomes ill. Forgiveness is the asepsis of the soul, the cleansing of the mind and the liberation of the heart. Whoever does not forgive does not have peace in the soul nor communion with God. Hurt is poison that intoxicates and kills. Keeping heartache in the heart is a self-destructive gesture. It’s autophagy. Those who do not forgive are physically, emotionally and spiritually ill. That is why the family must be a place of life, not of death; territory of cure not of illness; stage of forgiveness and not guilt. Forgiveness brings joy where sorrow has produced sadness; Healing where sorrow has caused diseases.”
Fr. Jay Raju