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forgiving from the heart
" 'Pay back what you owe,' he demanded." —Matthew 18:28
Jesus commands us to forgive people from our heart (Mt 18:35). In the context of today's parable, that means we must, in our heart, consider the account paid off, closed forever. The books have been balanced, the debt has been paid, and the slate has been wiped clean.
How can we determine if we've forgiven others from our heart? If we continue to look for some kind of reward or return from those who hurt us, we have not truly forgiven from our heart. If you can you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you have not closed the books yet on the account:
- If the spouse who has hurt you so much is praised in public, are you inwardly angry and looking for justice?
- Are you disturbed if those who damaged your reputation are honored by your co-workers, respected by your fellow parishioners, or successful in their projects?
- Do you find yourself dreaming about the other person being shamefully exposed and yourself fully vindicated?
- Do you "keep score" of old wounds? (see 1 Cor 13:5)
Jesus forgave from His heart. His immediate reward for this was to be publicly mocked, humiliated, and brutalized. He had so much love and forgiveness for us that He refused to count the cost of forgiving us from the heart. He silently bore our punishment, and we got off free. Imitate Jesus. Forgive first. Forgive to the point of looking bad yourself. Forgive completely. Forgive regardless of the cost. Forgive from your heart.
Prayer: Father, may I be so secure in Your love that I won't look for satisfaction anywhere else. I forgive all who have hurt me.
Promise: "I canceled your entire debt when you pleaded with me." —Mt 18:32
Praise: St. Pontian forgave St. Hippolytus, a rival anti-pope who dedicated himself to discrediting Pontian. Hippolytus humbled himself and wrote his followers to support Pontian, the true pope.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by one of our editors.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert J. Buschmiller, February 17, 1998
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 25, 1998