Did you recognize yourself in the Gospel from today ? No?…How is that? IN which one of the characters? In the merciless debtor! We behave so many times in similar ways! With a hand we beg for forgiveness from God and with the other one we slap on the cheek our neighbor. We know how to ask but not how to offer. We are glad to receive forgiveness, but we don`t forgive.
The Gospel from today is about forgiveness. Yes about that forgiveness we haven`t got used with, although we ask for it in our daily prayer:
`forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us!`
About that forgiveness we often expect, hope and ask for and we even have the impression we deserve: forgiveness from God, from those who are close to us, from our friends, from enemies…
But do we behave in the same way ? Do we forgive as easily those who do wrong to us as we expect or demand forgiveness? Or we stay and count the mistakes of the others very carefully while we consider ours minor and excusable? We many times say that forgiveness has its own limits but regarding these saint Peter the Apostle asked the Lord:
` “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times` (Mt. 18, 21-22). Moreover in the verses from the prayers we read before the Divine Eucharist we are warned: `The flesh of the Lord wanting to receive as nourishment…go and reconcile yourself with those who saddened you.
What do these mean ? These mean not only that our forgiveness must be unlimited as long as God`s forgiveness is endless but also that it is necessary to ask for forgiveness when the others hesitate or delay to do it! In what regards the promptitude with which all these must be fulfilled saint Paul the Apostle urges us: `Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry` (Ephesians 4, 26)
Once a monk came to abba Silouan and told him:
`Abba, I have an enemy who did many wrongs to me and I want to give him on the hand of the ruler.`
The elder told him:
`It is your business, son…`
`This is because if he is punished he will correct his ways, the monk tried to excuse his hostile attitude…
The elder told him again :
`As you like, son…it is your business…`
`Come on father, let us pray and then I go to the ruler, the monk asked him.
When they said the Lord`s Prayer instead of saying` forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us!`the elder said:
`and don`t forgive us our trespasses as we don`t forgive those who trespass against us!`
Then the monk burst like burned saying to the elder:
`Not like this, father.`
`But how, son?` the abba asked him. As long as you don`t want to forgive your brother abba Silouan won`t say any other prayer for you!
That one understood the lesson and forgave his enemy.
† SEBASTIAN Bishop of Slatina and Romanați