By Fr. Roy Cimagala
“BE merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged…For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Lk 9,36-38)
We need to process these words of Christ slowly if only to conform ourselves to them, something that given our human condition is most likely very difficult if not impossible for us to do.
More than processing them slowly, we first have to pray, asking for grace, for definitely the possibility of us following this divine indication can only take place if we have God’s grace. If we simply depend on our good intentions and best human effort, forget it! We can never give life to these words.
We have to understand that our ability to forgive and to judge properly can only take place when we are with God. For this we have to follow as closely as possible the example of Christ who, out of love for us and in spite of our grave sins, was and continues to be willing to bear our sins and to offer forgiveness.
We have to remember that if we truly have to be ‘another Christ’ as we ought to be, we have to know how to be merciful the way Christ, the fullness of God’s revelation to us, was and continues to be merciful to all of us.
And how was Christ merciful to all of us? First of all, being the son of God, he emptied himself to become man. That way, he already adapted himself to our wounded, sinful condition. He identified himself with us so that we would have a way to identify ourselves with him. He preached the truth about God and about ourselves.
He gave preferential attention to the sick, that is, the sinners. He was always ready to forgive, his mercy and compassion having no limits—“not only seven times, but seventy times seven times.” (Mt 18,22) He taught about loving the enemy and lived it. He did not mind all the insults and mockeries that were poured on him just to accomplish his mission of saving us.
And in the end, he assumed all our sins without committing sin by dying on the cross. In that way, he dealt death to all our sins, and with his resurrection he offered us a way for our own salvation and reconciliation with our Father God. He was thoroughly magnanimous.
And so, we just have to learn to forgive and move on. This is what we should do if ever we become a victim of some offense by someone. We should be quick to forgive and then move on, focused on doing what we are supposed to do. We should avoid getting stuck with the offense, wallowing in anguish, complaints and hatred, and keeping resentments, grudges and desires for revenge.
Let’s remember that all of us have sins that need to be forgiven also. And as Christ said it clearly, we can only be forgiven if we also forgive others. “If you will forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offenses,” he said. “But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offenses.” (Mt 6,14-15)
We have to develop the proper attitude in this particular issue because, truth to tell, we cannot avoid being offended by others just as neither can we avoid offending others also. That’s part of our human condition here on earth.