Faithful to the One who invites us to forgive
In his Gospel, Matthew gathers the utterances of Jesus that can guide believers in their efforts to build a community based on His words. “Then Peter went up to him and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me?’” (Matthew 18:21) In the parable that follows this question, Jesus invites those listening to understand that they themselves have received the Lord’s forgiveness and that they must also learn to forgive. This call to forgiveness is so important that it is at the heart of the quintessential prayer Jesus gave to His disciples: “Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.”
The Bible does not make direct reference to forgiveness in the few passages where Joseph is mentioned, but we can guess that in Bethlehem he may well have had considerable bitterness in his heart. After all, the people could have made an effort to create a small space for Mary to give birth to her son under suitable conditions. And then there was Herod, who wanted this harmless child to be killed for no reason … Confronted with such closed hearts, Joseph kept his own heart open to God’s presence. It was better to forget these humiliations and pursue his path.
Brother André had been humiliated by Dr. Charrette, who viewed him as nothing but a faith healer and a charlatan. But Brother André continued his mission without saying a word. One day the doctor, desperate because of his ailing wife and with nowhere else to turn, sought out Brother André, who responded to his request by interceding for his wife’s healing. Forgiveness sometimes means being able to turn the page following an affront and looking out for the other person’s well-being.
It is difficult to forgive; the road to forgiveness can be long and painful, but God’s call is clear. To be a child of this God who forgives, we must establish forgiveness at the very core of our lives.