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Sep 28th
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. To Pardon and Forgive the Tiny Offenses (March 17th Reading)
To Pardon and Forgive the Tiny Offenses (March 17th Reading) PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Francis Fernandez   
Monday, 16 March 2009 20:46

It is almost inevitable in our daily dealings with others — at work, at home, in social relationships — that small frictions occur. It is also possible that someone may offend us, or treat us unfairly, and this may hurt us. And, perhaps, this may happen not infrequently. Have I pardoned as often as seven times? I might ask myself. That is to say ‘do I always forgive?’ It is the question Our Lord puts to Peter in the Gospel off today’s Mass (Matt 18:21-35). It is also the proposed theme for our prayer today. Do we know how to forgive on all occasions? Do we do so promptly? 

We are aware of Our Lord’s reply to Peter and to ourselves: "Not seven, I tell you, but seventy times seven." That is to say, always, without limit. The Lord asks of those who follow him, of you and me, a forgiving approach and unlimited pardon.

The Lord demands of his own friends a completely generous largeness of heart. He wants us to imitate him. The omnipotence of God, says St. Thomas Aquinas, is shown, above all in the act of his forgiveness and the use of his mercy, for the way He has of showing his supreme power is to pardon freely . . . (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, I, q25, a3, ad3). And thus nothing makes us so God-like as our willingness to forgive (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 30, 5).

It is where we also show our greatness of soul, our magnanimity. Far be it from us, therefore, to remember who has offended us, or the humiliations we have endured – no matter how unjust, how uncivil or unmannerly they may have been — because it would not be right for a son of God to be preparing and keeping some kind of dossier from which to read off a list of grievances (J. Escrivá, Friends of God, 309). Although my neighbor may not improve, although over and over again he might commit the same offense or do something that offends me, I should avoid all bitterness. My heart should be pure and kept clean of all enmity.

The pardon we grant has to be sincere, from the heart, and be wanted just as God pardons us. Forgive us our trespasses we say each day in the Our Father, as we forgive those who trespass against us. An immediate pardon, without allowing bitterness or a spirit of divisiveness to eat away at the heart — without either humiliating the other person or being in any way melodramatic. Often, in daily life, it is not even necessary to say ‘you are forgiven’: it is enough to smile, to change the direction of the conversation, to make an affectionate gesture — to forgive, once and for all, as if the offence had never taken place at all. 

We would not be living our Christian life well if, at the least sign of friction, our charity began to grow cold and we began to feel distanced from others, or if we ourselves turned glum. Nor would it be very Christian if, when perhaps some serious damage were to cause us to lose our sense of the presence of God, our soul were to lose its peace and joy. We would not be behaving in a Christian way if we allowed ourselves to become touchy. We have to examine ourselves to see what our reactions are like when the irritations of the day crop up. Following Our Lord closely implies finding, even in the area of tiny contradictions or in the case of more serious injustices, the way to holiness.


With permission from Scepter UK. Short excerpts from IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD by Francis Fernandez. Available at SinagTala or Totus Bookstore 723-4326 or at



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 05:08

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