September 20, 2017
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
Many times, we have failed to realize the social responsibility that we have as the people of God to be relevant to the needs of the people. We can just have apathy and a lack of concern, and yet there are people hurting and suffering. We must constantly have that desire to let the gospel of Christ be seen and heard.
As God’s people, it is about time that we bow on our knees. We are called to realize that there are the hurts around us. There are things happening in society that we must find our significance in. We need to “makibaka” not in protest, but to stand up against those who continue to abuse our countrymen. It is very painful to see how people are taking advantage of others in the weaknesses that they have.
Being witnesses of Christ, being witnesses of His kingdom, we had a powerful teaching in last Sunday’s gospel about the love of God in forgiveness. It is not so much about the justification of sin, but the love and the mercy of God, which is the focus. In Psalm 85, the Psalmist was so caught up with his interpretation of the anger of God. It is not really God’s anger, but His loving-kindness that is being revealed. It reacts to the wrong of people and we interpret it as God’s anger. It is like a father who is concerned with a child who is going wayward and it is said that Dad is angry. God is angry at the sin, but not at the sinner. Dad’s angry at the wrong, but not at the wrongdoing.
God wants to restore us and cause His face to shine upon us once again. Mercy, lovingkindness, and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed each other in Jesus Christ, where we can see the very love of God and His forgiveness.
In our physical bodies, there is a necessity for activities and practices that will ensure our physical health – proper exercise, right diet, proper disposition. Parallel to this, a healthy spirit, a healthy soul is more important. There are spiritual exercises and diets that are necessary for Christians. It includes being prayerful, reading the Word, and being obedient. One simple exercise is being forgiven and forgiving. This is so important that when the disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us how to pray,” Jesus taught them the Lord’s Prayer. Within the prayer is the cry, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Why would Jesus include this? This is because it is part of a healthy life to be forgiven, and to realize that we have failed and to ask God in confession. If we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive.
One of the Sacraments that is not being given much attention today is the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Sacrament of Penance. We have the Confession of Sin in the liturgy, but there is a special place for an actual confession in the Sacrament that we are missing. Yes, we fail, and saying sorry is not enough. Sorry is falling short. Being sorry is good, but that sorrow must be translated into asking, “Forgive me,” and receiving that forgiveness. We can now take this as a weapon and release that same forgiveness to the world, to the people.
Asking for forgiveness is a spiritual exercise to gain spiritual health. We pray the Lord’s Prayer every day, and each day, we ask God to forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. I pray that we will all have a real and intense desire to ask God to show us if there is unforgiveness in our hearts. Are we still getting affected by people? Are there still cobwebs in our hearts that continue to latch on like a parasite which is drawing our spiritual life and causing us to be weak?
Our theme for tonight is: the witness of forgiveness. It is a very important witness to the life of a Christian. In Mark 11:23-24, Jesus said, “Have faith in God if you believe this mountain to be cast out, it will happen; so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” It is a Scripture of faith, believing that what you ask for will be yours. It comes with verse 25, “When you stand praying, forgive, so that your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” The power of faith is released, but it is also hinged on forgiveness.
Perhaps, the reason we are not seeing the power of the prayers of the Church being released is because we have not held on to the forgiveness of God. There are still sins that we have committed that we have allowed to haunt us or that we have not released that forgiveness to the people. In Mark 11:24-26, Jesus Himself was speaking, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”
There are two things to see about forgiveness. First, when we begin to exercise forgiveness – receiving and giving of forgiveness – the evil that lurks all around us, the evil that will try to snuff the life out of you or will try to attack you, God will always turn it to good. We saw this in Genesis 50 when Joseph said to his brothers, “I am not God. Don’t worry for what you have meant for evil against me, God turns to good.” It also extends to the fact that many times, we go through problematic situations and we easily get affected especially if it does not go our way. Remember, when we walk in forgiveness and love, whatever may seem against us, God will always turn it for us. We will begin to be just awed.
If someone does something that we don’t like or someone offends us, release forgiveness. We say, “How can I release forgiveness? They haven’t even asked me to forgive them.” When Jesus was hanging on the cross, did the people even ask for forgiveness? Who did the first act? It was God, and we are to make the first act even before people ask forgiveness. There should be the desire and the action to forgive.
This is the love of God. In the parable, the person owed his master money, which is about two hundred million pesos today. If someone would pay him one thousand pesos every day for the next twenty years, and after twenty years, what that person would owe his master is PHP 192,300, 000 pesos. This debt is so big that no one could pay it; but God has released it for us, so should we not forgive even the small things that we have been offended with? Regardless of how big the sin, what sin is bigger than God’s mercy? Scriptures says, “As high as the heavens are above the earth.” How high is the heaven above the earth? No one can even measure it because they say that the whole heavens is so infinite and so vast. We can’t comprehend the love of God because it is so big and immense.
Forgiveness is very important because it turns evil to good. It translates the wrongs, the sufferings, the pain. If we know that we have offended someone, ask for forgiveness. When we practice this everyday, we release power in our lives. Forgiveness has a proactive effect around us. It doesn’t only release power, but it also transforms evil to good. Matthew 18 says, “If we do not forgive, we will be subject to torturers.” When we forgive, we are released from whatever onslaught this torturers may have.
The reason many people are in bondage and couldn’t be delivered is because they can’t forgive. We have taken offenses lightly. There should not be so much of a consciousness of sin, but a consciousness of a brother that has been offended. We are so centered on ourselves that we fail to realize what we do. We must have a constant exercise of asking for forgiveness and the releasing of forgiveness. When we are able to do this, we will be able to have a witness of forgiveness in the lives of the people around us. It will begin to release health and strength in our lives, and we will have a different outlook in life.