It doesn’t get any better

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17 August 2017

“Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times” (Matt 18:21-22).

This Gospel, proclaimed today in all Catholic Churches around the world, is truth. It is love. It is hope.

The greatest, the most noble, the most sublime thing we do as human beings is forgive.

There are lots of human activities that catch our attention. There are lots of human activities that impress. But they don’t rank with forgiveness.

To forgive. This is the most dignified thing we do. Nothing comes close, except of course the experience of being forgiven.

When we forgive we act like God. We feel like God. We become like God.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) used to say, with his eloquent simplicity, that the forgiveness of one sinner is a greater act than the creation of the entire material universe. Remarkable. True. Beautiful.

Why might this be the case, I ask myself?

Because in scripture, the forgiveness of sins requires the shedding of blood. Since only God can forgive, he had to become human so that he might shed his blood.

And Jesus did this with utmost love on the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Well, this is rather overwhelming, I’d have to say. Sheer gift. Totally unmerited. Unprecedented, as reporters like to say!

But it is good to remember that when we find it within ourselves to forgive others, we are simply – and sublimely – sharing in God’s forgiveness.

It doesn’t get any better.


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