“Casting away mathematical limitations in forgiving, and extending the Mercy of the Lord to others!”
(Based on Sirach 27:33-28:9, Rom 14:7-9 and Mt 18:21-35 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
A common observation that is noticed among many children, is the fear and apprehensions of some subjects in the school or college.
Among these subjects, one which would top the list of subjects which causes tension and undue worry, is certainly, Mathematics!
Many have a fear of this subject which deals with figures and numbers.
Many have an aversion to this subject which deals with digits and numerals.
Well, it’s not known or certain whether Our Lord had any such aversion or fear or apprehension or even dislike for this subject, Mathematics!
But one thing is for certain…
… that the Lord sure loved to keep out Mathematics when dealing with important spiritual dimensions.
… that the Lord indeed would transgress the norms of Mathematics when engaged in vital spiritual aspects.
The Gospel of the Day is an exhibition of this aspect of the Lord going beyond mathematical boundaries in dealing with the beautiful virtue of forgiveness.
The passage begins with the Lord’s chief and one-of-the-first apostles Peter, raising a query to his Master, ” Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Mt 18: 21)
It was probably a genuine doubt of Peter, which arose from his own personal experiences.
He must have had some difficulties in forgiving, out of his wavering temperament, perhaps!
But he now puts forward to Jesus a doubt as to what should be the limit of one’s forgiveness.
Peter sought to know what are the exact boundaries that one must limit oneself, while forgiving.
He wanted clear-cut rules to define the maximum threshold and frontiers of generosity in pardoning.
But the Lord replies firmly, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy seven times” (Mt 18:22)
The Lord does away with the mathematical rules in forgiveness!
The Lord does not confine to the mathematical stipulations in forgiveness!
“Seventy seven times” would refer a number, unlimited and uncountable!
The frontiers for how many times to forgive are done away with…
The boundaries for how many times to forgive do not hold good…
As the Lord spoke these words to Peter, the apostle would himself have recalled…
“Once beside the sea of Galilee, when I encountered the Holy Master, I realized that I was drowning in the waters of sin… and I had asked pardon from the Lord.
Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man (Lk 5:8)”
These words of the Lord would have again echoed in the ears of Peter, later on, after the resurrection of Jesus….
Once again, beside a Sea… this time, the Sea of Tiberius, Peter experienced the forgiving power of the Lord in accepting back, though he had betrayed Him three times (Jn 21: 15-18)
Many times he had sinned against the Lord…
Many times he had caused pain and ache to the Lord…
Many times he had abandoned and betrayed the Lord…
But every time, the Lord forgave, wholeheartedly!
The Lord was truly the Master, “who practised what He preached”
The Lord was truly the Master, “who forgave unconditionally and without any limits”
This Lord, today seeks to impress on us too, this same attitude of forgiveness.
The teaching on forgiveness, is most certainly easy said than done!
To forgive….especially to forgive repeatedly, is certainly no easy task…
But it would require a deeper experience of the Unconditional Love of the Lord and our own determination, along with His grace, to reach out in forgiveness and pardon to our constantly erring brothers and sisters!
The Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) reminds u: “Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray!
Remember the end of your life, and cease from enmity, remember destruction and death, and be true to the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbor; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook ignorance!
Refrain from strife, and you will lessen sins; for a man given to anger will kindle strife, and a sinful man will disturb friends and inject enmity among those who are at peace.” (Sir 28: 2, 6-9)
Let the words of St Paul, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s!” (Rom 14:8)…
… help us to live a life of forgiveness and peace.
Are we ready to cast away mathematical limitations in forgiving, and extend the Mercy of the Lord to others?
Are we ready to do away with mathematical countings in pardoning others, knowing that we ourselves have received this favour from the Lord?
God Bless! Live Jesus!