Revenge, forgiveness, and freedom
Our immediate human reaction when people do us wrong or hurt us is revenge.
We retaliate immediately. We are human beings after all, whose life is loaded with limitations and reactions that at some point cause more damage than solution.
Revenge or retaliation is our quickest reaction to people who wrong us. This is why we should observe constant self-discipline, self-examination, and self-realization with the gospel truths.
There was once a teacher who called me for a listening ear. I did. It just listened for hours. She cried narrating her pain and brokenness due to series of betrayals. As I was listening, I prayed for her and her enemies. She did no wrong but she was being hated by her neighbor. People gossiped about her and she was treated badly in public. She is Amalita and she is beautiful.
Amalita was betrayed by her two good friends until she left their workplace. She was envied by her colleagues.
Worse, she was envied by her neighbor, leading to accusations to destroy her reputation. Amalita confronted her neighbor who showed no remorse at all.
Did we ever try to forgive those who have wronged us or we retaliated in our minds and hearts? Did we ever try to pray for those who spoke ill of us despite our good deeds? Did we ever admit our faults and apologized for our mistakes? Have we done reparations after our much-needed conversion?
We live in a world of hatred and a world of envious people. We cannot escape them because our world is small. What shall we do?
The Book of Sirach 27:30-28:7 provides us reasons to forgive ourselves and forgive others.
“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for He remembers these sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin. Think of the Commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.”
The book of Psalm 103:3 says, “He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills, redeems your life from destruction. He crowns you with kindness and compassion” for the “Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.” We must be exhorted to be more forgiving amidst the profound brokenness and wounds caused by fellow sinners. If we do, the Good Lord will all the more be merciful to us.
We cannot escape the reality of being wronged by people because we are social beings. We need to communicate. We need to socialize despite our brokenness. We don’t live for ourselves but we live for the Lord. Our social relationship maybe painful but our spiritual relationship will lift us up. Our spiritual relationship will boost our immune system against the evils of the world. Our spiritual relationship will transcend us to a higher degree of relationship that will brighten our life’s perspective.
St. Paul writes to the Romans 4:7-9, “Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord, so then, whether, we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
Forgiveness in the eyes of man is defeat but forgiveness in the eyes of God is victory.
Forgiveness is freedom from hatred, anger, resentments, and other sinfulness. Freedom is being emptied from sinful thoughts and acts. Freedom is our life in the life of God. Freedom is a life loaded with God’s grace.
The gospel of Matthew 18:21-35 narrates the forgiveness defined by Jesus. Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
Number seven is a perfect number in the Jewish culture and six therefore is imperfect. That is why 666 is associated to the Evil One. Jesus pointed out our attitude towards those people who wrong us. Forgiveness is unlimited. Forgiveness is not a defeat. It is a victory against sinfulness. It is a triumph over sin.
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” This was the plea of Jesus to the Father. He was suffering from a punishment he never deserved and yet he prayed for those who accused him wrongly, those who persecuted, and those who were killing him. Jesus died victorious over the sins of men and all the more victorious when he resurrected to prove that forgiving is not losing but victory over anger, hatred, resentments, and sinfulness. If we cannot still forgive, we are still imprisoned by our sins and we will not rise. We will not experience freedom when we don’t learn to forgive. Freedom is always the good fruit of forgiving.
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