The March 9, 2015 issue of the New York Magazine reports an interesting article on “Forgiveness”.
According to this article, the animal kingdom has been the subject of studying the patterns of forgiveness and reconciliation for many scientists.
Much of the research has involved gorillas and chimps.
It is found that they often enter into fights with each other…
… only later to embrace and continue their companionship.
Similar traits of behaviour has also been noticed among goats and hyenas.
However, the researchers have found that one species of animal doesn’t seem to forgive (atleast externally)
They are domestic cats.
(Well, there might be many of us, who will out rightly reject this theory, especially those who really like cats.
But let’s just take this as a ‘research finding’ and not the ultimate truth.
>> Researches findings, of course, are subject to exceptions and limited by conditions and interpretations!)
Human beings too have our moments of grappling with the aspect of ‘forgiveness’.
>> For some people, it’s easy to forgive…
>> But some others struggle hard in serving out pardon…
The Gospel of the Day is a teaching by Jesus on this necessary virtue of “forgiveness”.
To the query of Peter:
“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him” ( Mt 18: 21), Jesus illustrates His reply with the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
One of the principles in this virtue of forgiveness is the avoiding of a “mathematical accounting policy” in granting pardon.
As human beings, there is sometimes an avoidable tendency in us to “keep counts” in our relationships…
We make a count or keep a rough numerical impression…
… of how many times a person has done good to me
… of when was the last time a person behaved badly with me
… of how many times a person has hurt or caused harm to me
… of how often has a person offended me or spoken ill about me
… sometimes get reduced to mere mathematical entities
… sometimes find themselves entangled in the web of calculative units
It’s in such situations that “forgiving” the one who has erred against us becomes a ‘calculative’ affair.
Thus, we find that Peter in the Gospel asks Jesus, “How often must I forgive the brother who has sinned against me?”
We maintain, sometimes, a sort of an imaginary “fault-account” book.
And our thought-process takes the following pattern:
>> “This person, on so and so date, committed this mistake
And on so and so date, I had forgiven him”
>> “This person, on this particular day, had behaved in a very indifferent manner to me
And a particular number of days later, I had extended my pardon”
But Jesus today warns us to stop looking at life and relationships from a “mathematical” or “calculative” perspective.
What is the basis for Jesus to say this?
It is simply the fact that all of us – without any exception – are the beneficiaries of the mercy and forgiveness of God.
· God abandons all mathematical calculations in extending His forgiveness to us
· God lets go of every measure of computation in allowing us to receive His mercy
Rom 3:23 says that “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace thorough the redemption in Jesus Christ”
>> Each of us finds ourselves sinking in the “boats of sinfulness and guilt”
But it is the Mercy of God that still keeps us ashore.
>> Each of us pass through the “deserts of shame and culpability”
But it is the Forgiveness of God that nourishes us with the oasis of blessings
This “free and underserved” reception of the Forgiveness of God places an undeniable responsibility on us to extend His pardon to all.
The prayer “Our Father” gets recited so often by us, during the day or in our prayers.
But do we realise that it contains a clause, whose condition, if not fulfilled, brings upon a self-inflicted consequence.
We pray, “Forgive us our sins.. as we forgive those who sin against us”
Even though the mercy of God is always made available for us, it can be truly received only if one is willing, generous and humble enough to “forgive” the faults of others.
Forgiveness is a powerful weapon that, of course won’t change the past, but will sure transform the future.
Even the animal kingdom in general, displays traits of forgiveness and reconciliation.
>> How much more are we, as human beings, who are created in the image and likeness of God, bound to forgive one another?
Perhaps, some of us have a feline flavour in us to “avoiding granting pardon” and “nurturing the grudge”
But can we let go of our “pride and arrogance” and “put on Christ” (Rom 13: 14) to become that “flower which perfumes the hand that crushes it”
May the Gospel of the Day strongly cause us to take realistic resolutions to cherish our relationships with the freedom it deserves and to generously sow the seeds of forgiveness and mercy in the hardened fields of broken and damaged!
God Bless! Live Jesus!