Summary: “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full,” both of the people in our Gospel today said the exact same thing.
As a sought-after corporate motivational trainer, Brian Tracy normally does not take phone calls, but he took this one from a man who said that he had a testimony to share. The man said he was raised in a dysfunctional family and he was furious with his family. He had a bad marriage, was cheated by a business partner, lost all his money, and now he was quite sick.
He went to the doctor and his doctor said bluntly, “You’re going to die. Your system is so shot; it’s just like a worn-out car, everything’s gone. You’ve got about six months to live so you should make peace with whomever or whatever in your life, because there’s nothing that modern medicine can do for you.” The doctor also said, “You might let a few people go. You’re still angry at so many people. Just let them go.”
The man walked out of there thinking that, yes, he had been so angry for so long. He made a list of 39 people that he was furious with. He went through the list, and he said, “All right, I’m going to forgive them.”
One by one, he thought about how angry he had been with each of them, and he forgave them. “I forgive this person completely.” Some names were hard, but he went through the list and let them go, saying: “I’m going to have to call this person.” Or, “I’m going to have to visit this person.” For six months he traveled around Europe and the United States and England in order to forgive people and ask for their forgiveness.
As he did this, his health got better, much better. By the end of six months, he had forgiven every single person that ever hurt him. “His mind, his soul, his heart, were completely clear. He had no negative feelings at all. He felt fabulous about himself, he had no pains, and he went back to the doctor. The doctor couldn’t believe it and said: “You are actually completely symptom-free.”
Meanwhile, the man resumed working, and he started earning more than he ever did. Source: The Science of Influence: How to Inspire Yourself and Others to Greatness (Gilman Media LLC, 2019).
Like our Gospel today teaches, forgiveness is releasing the offending person from the debt we feel they owe us because of what they have done, and allowing our negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to change gradually to positive ones; that is, we change internally. The Greek word for “forgiveness” is aphienai, meaning to “loose,” “let go,” “release,” or “omit.”
Whatever amends anyone owes you, it is infinitely less than what God has forgiven you for just one mortal sin.
“Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full,” both of the people in our Gospel today said the exact same thing.
And the Master responded to the unforgiving servant, “...Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’”
Sirach 28 from our First Reading has the same message, which is: forgiving others is a condition for receiving God’s forgiveness. Refusing to forgive is a form of anger that one will not let go of. Our First Reading puts it as: “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.”
Forgotten grace breeds unforgiving living.
We can begin by praying for the willingness to forgive the person who hurt us; it’s ultimately an opportunity to enter into Christ’s crucifixion with him so we can reinterpret emotionally charged memories by seeing them through a crucifix which powers us to do something that you could never do under your own power.
The Catechism says that there is no offense, however serious, that can’t be forgiven, if one is honestly repentant. 982
But we also must be prudent in how we love them. Because some of these people can be abusive, we might have to love them at a distance. Yet we never stop praying for them and forgiving them.
What grudges am I holding? Is there anyone that I have shut out of my life?