Words from our Pastor

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 i