24th Sunday in Ordinary Time September 17th, 2017
Oct 4, 2017
If there is something we all have trouble doing? If I could name probably one of our greatest challenges, it would be what we have just heard Jesus tell us. We have to forgive our brother and sister from our hearts. Not seven times, but seventy times seven times. In other words, as Christians, we are to forgive over and over and over again without limit. Why do we have to do this? After all, what they did to us was hateful, it was deceitful, it was slanderous, or why do we have to forgive the Muslim terrorists who attacked our country and killed close to 4,000 Americans 16 years ago? The reading we heard from the Book of Sirach today reminds us that how can we refuse mercy to someone and expect the Lord to be merciful to us? How can anyone hold onto a grudge and expect that their sins against anyone could be forgotten and forgiven by Our Lord? I
I had an experience that changed my life forever. During my seminary training, I was hurt very badly by someone in the Church. This person spend the better part of a year trying to discourage me from the priesthood. In fact, this person did the best one could do to prevent me from becoming a priest. Needless to say, I had a very difficult time forgiving this person. But in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, I realized that I could never say the "Our Father" prayer again until I brought myself to forgive this person.
Each time we pray the "Our Father" if we do not really mean "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." We are just a bunch of hypocrites if we do not mean and live what we pray. Plain and simple. Now, I will tell you I could not have forgiven by myself. It was the grace of God that helped me to forgive this person. We sometimes need to pray for the grace to be able to forgive someone in our lives. When I was able to forgive I could not believe what happened next! With the grace of God, I had a talk with this person and we even brought ourselves to embrace after our talk. It felt so wonderful to forgive and have the burden of hatred lifted from my soul. I was at last free from the chains of hurt, resentment, and unforgiveness.
Now, you may not have had an experience of someone trying to destroy your life, yet, all of us have had those people in our lives that have perhaps over and over again hurt us. Maybe, even perhaps, without fully knowing they are hurting us. When we let our pride go, we can soar to new heights. Sirach told us we have to overlook faults. We cannot take offense at everything that is said to or about us or done to us. We instead should do what I like to say-is confuse the heck out of people! Do you know how to do this? Well it is very easy. All we have to do to conquer evil done to us with goodness by like what I call "killing those who often us with kindness." They may expect us to get mad or upset when they try to hurt us. Yet, we can merely thank them for their comment or offense and they choose to reply in kindness. It will be difficult at first. But, trust me, folks, it drives them crazy and perhaps makes them stop and think in a way they have not considered before. They even may become ashamed by what they did or said. Conquering evil with goodness is where it is at!
When we forgive others, we participate in the loving forgiveness of Christ. We then become assured we will forgiven ourselves. We are freed from not only our sins but from the sins of all the others who have harmed us. When we pray we will be heard. We will not be a hypocrite when we pray the "Our Father." We will become a new person that does not allow the sins and offenses of others ruin our day or our outlook on life. Forgiveness can be a hard thing to do if we let it. But as Christians we must forgive anyone or any group of people, terrorist or not, as we have been forgiven by Christ. If we choose to forgive we will be free. If not,we will find ourselves always in the chains of sadness and despair. I am sure you would agree that life is too short for this. Let us always choose to conquer evil with good and, perhaps, have a little fun while we are at it confusing the heck out of people, by "killing them with kindness" when they expect just the opposite from us.
Who knows, they may even have a conversion experience out of being "Killed with Kindess!"