Forgive, Not Forget

13 June 2010 Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Sam 12, 7-10; Psalm 31; Gal 2, 16-21; Luke 7, 36-50

People say when someone sins against us, we should forgive and forget everything. The readings today says otherwise. We are to forgive, but we are not to forget. Instead, we are not to be enslaved by our past.

In the first reading, Nathan reminds David of his sins against the Lord despite the blessings he received. He said, “Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in His sight? You have cut down Urriah the Hittite with the sword; you took his wife as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites.”

In the Gospel, Jesus lists down the things the Pharisee neglected to do to honor a guest. He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.”

On the other hand, everyone one knows the sins of the woman. We know this from the parable Jesus narrated to Simon, the Pharisee.

If we are to judge every single sin we have committed despite the gifts the Lord has given, we are to be ashamed. If we are to dissect every single one of them, any punishment will not be commensurate to the pain we have inflicted. Scripture says, “If you will remember our guilt, O Lord, who can stand?” (Psalm 130, 3). Since David had Urriah killed by the Ammonites, death is the corresponding punishment for murderers and adulterers (Deut 22, 22).

But God’s ways are not our ways. God’s love for us is different from human love. A contrite heart is all He needs to be merciful. David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan answered simply, “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin; you shall not die.”

This is also what Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go now in peace.”

Why is it that we should not forget the sins, but forgive the sinner?

St. Paul said that no one lives for oneself alone. We need each other in our struggle to be holy. We can do this by performing our prophetic role given to us in baptism. As Nathan and Jesus gave feedback and admonished the sinner, we too are asked to do the same to our neighbors.

Psychology has it that we have blind spots. These are parts of ourselves that we do not know but others see. By marking one by one every single detail of our mistakes, we help in each other’s awareness of these parts of our lives that needs reformation. This is what Jesus did to Simon, the Pharisee. If mistakes are recurring, the more we are to point out to them their sinful patterns. We do this out of concern and love; we are responsible for each other’s formation.

Look what happened to David and the woman. He became the greatest leader of Israel. King Solomon, his son by Urriah’s wife, Bathsheba, built the great Temple of Jerusalem. The woman in the Gospel acquired a new lease on life. And Simon became aware of his neglect.

Therefore, when we forgive, we say that we are not to be enslaved by our hurts and pains of the past. We will not allow them to influence our decisions. We will not allow our love for one another be colored by our sinful histories.

On the other hand, we forgive the friend who has said a snide remark. We give them another chance to change. We say, “I hope in you. I believe that you will change.”

Until when are we going to forgive? Jesus said, “infinity” (Matthew 18,22; seventy times seven is infinity multiplied). Thus, as many times as we go against the will of the Lord, we will be forgiven. As many times as others hurt us, we will give them another chance. As long as we cause others pain, we will also be given an infinite chance to change.

Part of life is to accept this repetition and trust that by continually forgiving and forming others, our relationships will grow, deepen, and maintained.

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