Matthew 18:21 – 19:1, Thursday of Week 19 in Ordinary Time
There is a great story about two Tibetian monks who belonged to a group which does not allow them to have any interaction with women.
Once, both of them were on a journey and they came to an overflowing river. They noticed a young woman standing on the side of the river, too scared to walk into the water. Without speaking, one of the monks lifted the girl on his shoulder, walked across the river to the other side, and dropped her off. The monk then continued on with his journey. The second monk caught up with first monk, but did not talk to him for two hours and was very angry.
Finally, the second monk blurted, “You know we are not even allowed to talk to a woman and you had the courage to carry her on your shoulder. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
The first monk said, “See, I have already taken that woman off my shoulders two hours ago, whereas you are still carrying her on your shoulder!”
All of us tend to get very angry with the person who has wronged us. We tend to carry on our shoulder the anger within us – and we keep beating ourselves with the pain of that anger. And because of this, we find it difficult to live life to the fullest, the way God continually invites us to live. If only the second monk had understood and forgiven the first monk, he would have not been so angry and stressed out for those two hours and maybe more!
Today’s Gospel invites us to free ourselves of the bitterness we carry in our hearts. It invites us to decide to stop beating ourselves with the pain which others have caused us and slowly allow the arms of forgiveness to embrace our life. No one will ever joyfully celebrate Easter if one does not first recognize in sorrow that one is a sinner who needs to forgive and to be forgiven.
Whenever we forgive another from the heart, we put a plank (a piece of wood) in the bridge across which we ourselves must travel on our way from earth to heaven.
For each of us is a sinner. And the only way we can pass from earth to heaven is across the bridge of God’s forgiveness.
“Forgive others,” Jesus said, “and God will forgive you.”
The safest and surest insurance policy against the loss of heaven is the policy of forgiving others from the heart.
“Happy are those who are merciful to others,” said Jesus, “God will be merciful to them!” (Mattew 5:7)
How do we work through an emotional block that makes is hard for us to forgive someone?
“Forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32)