Finding strength in forgiveness

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13 November 2017

In today’s Gospel, Jesus seeks to teach us that forgiveness leads to faith through grace; a faith that grows in strength to move all obstacles in our lives. Let us break open three key themes in this scripture: obstacles, forgiveness, and strength.

Jesus warns us that ‘obstacles are sure to come,’ that in walking the Christian journey; we are bound to come across occasions for stumbling. If you stumble – just as Christ does three times on His way to Calvary – you must pick yourself up and continue to follow where God is calling you. The key to living the Christian journey is understanding that communion with Christ leads to a life lived to the full. To actually ‘live’ this life you must keep your gaze firmly set upon Christ. As Peter found out being called out upon the water, the obstacles we face are the ones that take our eyes away from Christ.

Jesus also warns us to be careful of how we use our influence on those around us. The image of having a millstone around your neck and being thrown into the Sea is sure to send shivers down your spine! But Jesus is saying in every relationship, in every interaction you have with those around you, lies an opportunity to lead them closer to, or further from, Christ. We all must be conscious never to be an ‘obstacle’ of others coming into relationship with Christ.

The second theme is forgiveness. We are called to forgive and seek forgiveness, at every possible opportunity. We must imitate God’s willingness to love through forgiveness, experienced through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or whenever we come to him praying for God to ‘forgive us our trespasses.’ When we forgive, we love. As God is love (1 John 4:8), we can believe that when we forgive, we are allowing the love of God to flow through us and into the world.

Finally, forgiveness leads to strength. It takes great strength to forgive, especially those who have deeply hurt us. The apostle’s plea to the Lord to ‘increase our faith’ is the attitude we must have to respond to the challenge of forgiveness.

We need strength to forgive, and strength comes from faith. Faith is founded on the belief that God created the world out of love for us, and sought to be in a relationship with us. But humanity has continually broken that relationship, evident throughout the ‘world’ in the devastating consequences of sin. Amidst the presence of sin, God sent His only Son to become one with us in our brokenness and through the forgiveness granted by our Salvation through Christ, we are drawn back into relationship with God.

Our faith is in our forgiveness. Therefore, to ‘forgive those who trespass against us’ we must draw strength from our faith. This may begin as something small, like a mustard seed, but it can grow to move even the biggest obstacles in our way.

Let us pray for the obstacles in our lives; for the Spirit of forgiveness to fill our hearts; and, for our strength, founded in our faith, to increase.

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