ON FORGIVENESS/ ST. CLARE, THURSDAY, 11TH AUGUST 2022, WEEK 19, YEAR II.
EZEKIEL 12:1-12; PSALM 78; MATTHEW 18:21-19:1.
Today’s Gospel is a very powerful teaching on forgiveness.
Let me begin by noting that forgiveness is one of the easiest themes to preach on, but then, it is one of the most difficult virtues to practice. There are certain things that someone might do to us and the last thing we want to think about is forgiving them.
Forgiveness is an issue that touches or concerns virtually everyone in one way or another because somehow we all struggle with it and we all stand in need of it.
My first message today is in case you are here struggling to forgive someone. Do not feel guilty or condemn yourself that it is hard for you to forgive. When Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them…” I don’t think it was easy for Him either. Let us continue to pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit and a deeper awareness of God’s love and forgiveness. It will heal us of every hurt and pain and it will change our feeling towards those who offend us. An awareness of God’s love in our lives will change us from bitterness to sympathy, from vengeance to mercy.
Secondly, let us look at the other dimension.
Do we also do things to hurt people deeply?
Do we think about the effects of our actions on people?
Our words, our judgement, our criticism, our treatment of others?
Are we sensitive to people’s emotions? When people forgive us, do we hurt them again?
Do we break people’s hearts by insincerity and deceit?
Someone may have an obligation to forgive us but that doesn’t mean that God will not demand an account of our actions, of how we treat people.
In the First Reading, God told the prophet, Ezekiel, that these people had eyes but never saw.
Do we also have a heart that does not care about people?
Are we insensitive to their feelings and the effect of our actions on them?
Again, let us pray to God to help us out of actions that hurt others.
St. Clare was born in Assisi in the year 1193. She was from a very noble family.
She once heard St. Francis preach and her heart was so touched by his words. She became inspired not only by the words but also by the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
Despite her father’s opposition, she followed St. Francis and later became the foundress of an order of nuns, the Poor Clares. She led a very austere life, abounding in works of piety and charity.
Though young, she was advanced in judgement, constant in doing good, wise and humble, famous for her civil manners and sensitivity to the needs and problems of others.
She stood in the gap (i.e interceded) for the city of Assisi and the monastery of San Damiano when it was under siege by the troops of Vitale of Aversa and her prayers obtained the city’s liberation from the war in September 1240 and June 1241.
She became an inspiration even to her mother (Ortolana) and sisters (Beatrix and Catarina), who later joined her in the convent.
She died on August 11, 1253, at the age of 59. Her last words were “Blessed are you, O God for having created me.”
We pray that through her intercession, we may live our lives in honour of God, and that we may be willing to obey God’s command, especially the command to forgive and seek holiness of life, Amen.