Sixteen years ago, we experienced one of the most horrific
situations in the history of the U.S. Planes crashed into the
World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in
DC. Every year we remember those who lost their lives and
honor the brave firefighters, police officers, and first responders
who assisted the victims and who also lost their lives. It
seems as if our wounds are still fresh and painful. How are we
supposed to forgive the people who caused so much pain? We
may also say the same thing when someone has caused a lot of
personal, physical, or emotional pain after sinning against us.
Today’s first reading from Sirach speaks powerfully and
directly to the way many of us feel. But the reading does not
agree with where we may be at “Wrath and anger are hateful
things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.” We may not identify
ourselves as sinners, but many of us are holding tight to our
anger and wrath; and we may feel very blameless about it too.
When scripture says to us, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice,”
we reply, “Are you kidding? But the advice from our
first reading today is, that if we expect to have our faults and
sins forgiven, we must learn to forgive others. “Could anyone
nourish anger against another and expect healing from the
Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like Himself, can
He see pardon for His own sins?”
As if to emphasize the point, in the Gospel, Jesus outplays
Peter’s affirmation that he will forgive his brother seven times
by demanding seventy-seven times forgiveness. Jesus proceeds
to tell a parable of a man who was forgiven a great debt, who
then refused to forgive a much smaller debt to a fellow citizen.
At the end of the parable, no one is forgiving and no one
is forgiven. It’s a disaster, all because one servant failed to
extend pardon to another.
God forgives unconditionally. Do we really understand
what unconditional forgiveness is? It means that, no matter
what happens afterwards, in that moment, God forgives.
Unfortunately, when we as humans forgive someone, we
expect them to be grateful and we expect them not to do it
again. It is all well and good to talk about forgiveness in a theoretical
way, but how do we forgive someone who is fanatically
bent on destroying life, even my life? That person probably
despises my forgiveness and sees it as weakness. Can unconditional
forgiveness be a weakness, or is it the most courageous
act of all? We recall Jesus saying as he was crucified: “Father,
forgive them; they know not what they do.” Who, but Jesus,
could say something like that? I certainly could not. Could
I would like to say, “Your will be done, Lord,” but honestly,
I am not there yet. Not yet, maybe some day, but not without
a great deal of God’s forgiving grace.
SS. Peter & Paul Church’s Roof
In the next week, we will begin the replacement of the
roof at Ss. Peter & Paul Church. This capital improvement will
cost $206,140.00. The project will take from about five to six
weeks to be completed. During that time, we will continue
with regular activities at the church. Funds for this project are
taken from the savings we have of the selling of St. Maurice
convent. I will keep you posted in the progress made.
Your brother in Christ,