Reflection of the Week

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Cross of Forgiveness

Why should we forgive those who hurt us? The gospel this Sunday gives three reasons: First, because Jesus commands it. Second, because forgiveness is part of loving one another. And third, because we want to be forgiven for our sins.

Obviously, Jesus expects us to forgive one another. Here he commands us to forgive unceasingly, without limit. Now that could be a challenge for even the most patient person. So does forgiveness exclude tough love? Does it mean we have to let someone hurt us over and over? No, it is possible to forgive someone and also prevent them from hurting us, if we do it with love (the second reason.) For instance, we might forgive an alcoholic family member, but still insist that they get help. We can forgive a son or daughter who breaks the law, but still let them face the consequences so they learn from their mistake. We may forgive a friend who borrows money without repaying it, but still refer them to a credit counselor, instead of lending them more money. Since forgiveness is part of love, it is also part of tough love.

That leads to the third reason: We forgive because we want to be forgiven. Or more accurately, we forgive because we have been forgiven. Jesus has already died for our sins. His resurrection shows us that the Father accepted the sacrifice of his Son Jesus for our sins. If we truly believe that Jesus is risen and that we will rise to eternal life with him in spite of our sins, how can we refuse to forgive someone who hurts us? When we promise to take up our cross each day to follow Jesus, we must remember why Jesus took up his cross and realize that we have to forgive as he does. That is why the cross is such a powerful symbol. It challenges us to accept suffering for Jesus’ sake. It reminds us that sometimes our cross is simply forgiving someone rather than hurting them back or hating them. If Jesus gave his life to forgive us, how willing are we to spread that forgiveness around? †


— Tom Schmidt


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