Forgive and forget is a common adage to reconciliation. But forgetting may be just letting things be, turning a deaf ear or simply getting used to it. Forgive but do not forget because the experience of mercy bears fruit in grace. The experience of being forgiven sets us free and makes us capable of forgiving in a most authentic way.
A lot of times I hear people say “Walang kayang gawin ang taong mahal mo na hindi mo kayang patawarin.” (there is nothing your loved one can do that you cannot forgive) A mother’s love is an example of this love. A mother can bear all the sacrifices for the sake of her children, even to bearing the pain that her child caused her. That holds true with the Father. In chapter eighteen, Matthew reflects the importance of relationship, relationship founded in love. The chapter begins with the disciples asking who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (verses 1-6). To care for the little ones is to care for the vulnerable and to let them affect and question our lives. Jesus continues by saying that it would be better for us to drown in the depths of the sea than to put a stumbling block in the path of one of these little ones (v. 7). Jesus shows his love for vulnerable people, and calls us to share his concern. The Parable of the Lost Sheep (verses 10-14) speaks of the Good Shepherd who risks everything to save one lost sheep. In the eyes of the Good Shepherd, every sheep is important—He invites us to extract every effort to win our brother or sister back to the flock. Jesus then offers detailed guidance regarding the handling of conflict in the church (verses 15-20). The object is reconciliation, and our obligation is to pursue reconciliation even at great cost of time and energy. The penalty is severe for those who refuse to respond to the reconciliation process, but the process is designed, not to punish, but to open the eyes of the offender to the seriousness of the offense—and to bring him/her back into the fold. (Richard Niell Donovan, 2009)
The gospel today especially speaks of the mercy of the Father who felt compassion. “And the Lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.” (v. 27) In spite the large amount of debt, he forgave him and looked beyond the person. He sees not only as a servant who deserves to be punished, but he looks at his image reflected on the man. Francisco Palau who believed in the beauty of the Church alive in every person says, “You are lovable just as God is, you are beautiful and lovely like God, because that beauty is but God’s beauty impressed upon man and communicated to a creature.” (MR. 9,18) It was evidently missed by the servant who received forgiveness because as soon as he goes out and meets his fellow servant, he forgets the act of the master. He forgets the compassion laid on him and the generosity given to him. He forgets to empathize and share the same tribulation of his fellow servant.
Even before we forgive, we have been forgiven gratuitously and its riffle effect in our lives is reflected in our capacity to see beyond what our eyes tend to see. The experience of God’s forgiveness impulses us to forgive and not forget the unconditional love and acceptance we have received. Only when our encounter with a compassionate God truly made a meaning in our lives shall we be capable of penetrating in our hearts the true meaning and effect of reconciliation. Only when we deeply experience the peace and joy of giving and receiving forgiveness shall we transmit the same graces. Only when we experience and we encounter the Church, infinitely lovable and beautiful, only then shall we not forget.
How many times do I act like the master who not only forgives but also sees beyond the external? How many times am I like the unforgiving servant who was forgiven but forgets?
Reina del Carmelo Community- Lucena