Forgiveness is Willing the Good
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Have you experienced being hurt? The question may seem superfluous. In this imperfect world people are bound to be hurt or to hurt others. We cannot seem to stop hurting one another. Sometimes, due to poor communication we unintentionally hurt people we love. There are small hurts and there are big hurts. Both can eat us up. We may feel resentment build up for lack of attention from someone close to us. Or someone may have done something really terrible to us and our family members.

Action starter: Next week, Lent begins. Forgive someone.

Many years ago, when I was assigned in a small town, I heard a knock on my door at two in the morning. An elderly neighbor was asking for some help. He wanted me to drive him to another town to get his son. His son was killed in an ambush. Given the peace and order condition during those years, I was able to prevail on him to wait awhile until daybreak, otherwise we could both get killed too. After his son was properly buried, he visited me and we talked. I was waiting for him to talk about what he would do, since he knew the perpetrators of the crime. Finally he said, “I have decided not to take revenge. Justice will be done in God’s own way.”

That was a surprising reaction. In a culture where revenge was carried out personally for some actual or perceived injustice, it was a big step to leave things to the courts, or if that was not possible, to the workings of Providence.

Not to wish evil against one’s enemies is the beginning of what Jesus talks about in the Gospel today, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Lk. 6:27). After listening to the Beatitudes last Sunday, we are confronted with more hard sayings of the Lord. It seems, the Lord is asking his disciples to do what is humanly impossible. How indeed can we love our enemies?

If we wait for feelings of love in the sense of liking our enemies, we will be waiting a long time. We will not be able to love them at all. Loving the enemy is not a matter of feeling, It is a matter of willing. We do not will any harm to happen to another person. We do not wish that lighting strikes him, or he meets an accident, or his house burns down. Positively, we will that something good happens to him. People who have hurt us are under the bondage of sin. We pray and we wish that God may touch their lives just as He has touched our lives.

We can only fulfill the Lord Jesus’ injunction today to “bless those who curse you” if we take the viewpoint o the Lord. He lets the sun shine on the bad as well as on the good. God considers all of us His children and deserving of a second or seventh chance. If we place ourselves in the shoes of the person who needs love, forgiveness, and a second chance, we will not be too rash on passing judgment on others or be hard on those who have hurt us.