Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

From the forgiveness to the love

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants …. a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount …. the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’….When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount.  He seized him …. demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’….His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Mt 18,21-33

Some years ago I was praying for some healings in a group of the Renewal, in Calabria. Usually, when we gathered to pray in an atmosphere of faith, praise and love, each one for the others, the Holy Spirit was pouring out on the people thereby present and the body, harmonizing with the mind and the spirit, if it had some problem, felt immediate benefits and sometimes a true healings occurred. That day, however, the miraculous love of the Lord had no effect. At one point, a brother of the prayer group opened the Bible and read: “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions” (Mark 11.25). This was the answer to our problem. We began to pray for the people to whom we had not forgiven, the prayer spread positively around and some persons of the group began to feel the beneficial effects on the evils for which they suffered for some time. If we do not forgive our brother, it is as if we would raise around our heart a wall which prevents to the love and to the grace of God to reach us and operate. However, we wondered why the today passage urges to forgive “seventy times seven” and not once and for all. The reason for this insistence – the Lord has told us – is that the lack of forgiveness is a form of hate: and the hate leaves our hearts gradually, not immediately. It is like an infected wound, which must be repeatedly cleaned and disinfected to remove all the pus which gradually forms inside. The forgiveness, however, does not make the transition from the hate to the indifference, but from the hate to the love: I am sure I have forgiven my brother when I love him. It is not easy to love your enemy, but there is a secret to put us on this road:  to begin to love and forgive ourselves. The one  who does not forgive himself and who does not love himself is not able to forgive and to love the others. Let’s get out then from the guiltiness, let’s not to think bad of ourselves and let’s draw ourselves with frequency near to the sacrament of the reconciliation. So we will be able to love ourselves and our neighbors.

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