If we want God to forgive us, we have to forgive other people for their offenses and hurts against us.
Our blessed LORD’S teaching extends to every person and every offence.
In today’s Gospel, Saint Peter wonders aloud if this simply goes to far when he asks Jesus: How many times must I forgive another? (Matthew 18:21)
Jesus immediately responds: always. (v. 22)
By means of forgiveness, Jesus shows us that the way to overcome evil is by love.
My own spiritual director calls them “saint makers.” Others who offend and hurt me provide me with opportunities to grow in perfection. Imitate Jesus. I can become upset, even unhinged. So, too, can I have my heart directed toward God – and when I do – forgiveness follows quickly.
There may be nothing more persuasive to bring others to Christ than their seeing our practicing forgiveness. I vividly recall a powerful personal moment with the bishop who ordained me praying lovingly for his oppressors, when I silently was hoping he would let them all have it. To this day it remains the standard I seek to live when I am offended and hurt.
I find it helpful in the more difficult forgiving moment to repeat our blessed LORD’s words on Cross: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
Usually, it is more than enough just to smile or return a greeting or display kindness in order to resume a friendship or create a new one.
Keep perspective: don’t let the little frictions lead to loss of personal joy.