Jesus’ Forgiveness

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”[1]

The first revelation on the topic of forgiveness, came when driving to my Saturday morning men’s Bible study. On the radio, Fr. John Ricardo was talking, of course, about forgiveness. I guess it was the way that Fr. Ricardo presented the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant[2] that it made a new impression on me. The general storyline of God forgiving me and me being not as forgiving as I should be to others was a general understanding of the interpretation for this Parable. The way, though, that Fr. John presented his impassioned impression of the total infiniteness of the debt forgiven by the King, caught my attention. The futility of this servant to even to contemplate paying this debt. That the 10,000 Talents the servant owed the king was the equivalent of 300 lifetimes of his wages. The debt was so astronomical that the servant could never ever think to repay. This, now in comparison, to the fellow servant’s debt, equivalent to only three month’s wages, something very payable

What I was lacking in my interpretation of this Parable has been the total gratitude for this infinite gift, the total magnitude of the multitude of my sins that Jesus has forgiven in my lifetime. I guess I had a problem equating money with the level of my sin. My sin, to me, was not all that large of a debt, per my perception on things. I have been viewing myself, through the lenses of my rose colored glasses, as a “good person”. A good person definitely has done much more good things vs. bad, right?

Without that extreme level of gratitude, I fail miserably to first, properly repent for my sins because I do not see them as grave as they really are; sins that put Jesus on the cross; drove nails through His hands and feet.  The gratitude that without Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the Cross, as Fr. John put it, I would be going to hell.  Secondly, I failed to carry Jesus’ loving embrace to my fellow man.  There are many instances where I did forgive, but many, too many, where grudges were carried.  I can now feel the effects of the chains that those dark events still imprison me and need to let them go through Jesus’ infinite forgiveness, mercy and love.

A second occurrence developed later in the morning when I visited “the church on the lawn” which is the affectionate name for our little stretch of grassy public property along the road in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Plano, TX.  I usually stand with a “Pray To End Abortion” sign and wave and smile at passerby cars.  This is an action done to make sure attention is gained by passerby motorists that they not only see my sign, but also see me (hopefully) lovingly smile and wave at them.  This is done to incite a reaction – for or against.  A portion of the drivers and/or passengers will then gesture either their approval or disapproval to our cause.  It is the ones that render gestures of anger or disgust that cast the next level of forgiveness – forgive your enemies.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”[3]

In the last half hour of my stay at the church on the grass today, my Rosary got its workout.  When it came time to say the Our Father prayers, the second half of the prayer suddenly jumped out at me, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  It was my duty then that morning and all the other mornings and afternoons spent on the grass; I was mandated to unconditionally forgive each and every person who made any of assorted angry gestures toward me or uttered dressing downs how misguided my beliefs were.

It was a very freeing moment. I had always tried, at least, to have that type of attitude. No matter if a passerby gave me a positive or negative response, I always smiled and waved to them. My goal has always been to plant a seed in the dissenter’s mind. My hope was to see at least one of them, someday, standing next to me on the grass, with sign in hand. My psyche, however, was taking a little hit with every derogatory gesture. There was a flicker of unforgiving, wanting to gesture back something to hopefully jolt this person back to reality.

For some reason, saying the Our Father prayer drove home the true message. I need to completely and unconditionally forgive as Jesus has forgiven me. I needed to let go of the hurt, the selfish ego bruise, to let go of any ill feelings that I may harbor, to turn the other cheek.

It was a freeing moment. A moment that made my mile walk back to my car a little lighter than in the past.  Amen. God Bless.

 

[1] Matthew 6:14-15

[2] Matthew 18:21-35

[3] Matthew 5:43-45

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