Freewill is an important gift from God necessary for human existence. Imagine humans without the ability to choose or without the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong: it will be prefab living. God graciously bestows the gift of choice on humans to enable them to make excellent decisions to live happily. If we make a poor choice, we own up to it and become responsible for our wrong choices.
In making daily decisions, we fall into two categories: The first choice leads us towards compassion while the second takes compassion away. In the latter category, we refuse to view others as creatures of God and abuse them in terrible ways. For personal comfort, we inflict pain on our neighbors; leaving them hurt. The Prophet Ezekiel in today’s first reading specifically warns the wicked against indulging in sinful ways that hurt. He says, “If I tell the wicked, ‘O wicked one, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to dissuade the wicked from his ways, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” God is unhappy with the death of the sinner who does not repent.
Negative choices can derail the Christian from his obligations to his neighbor as “your brother’s keeper” and lead to dangerous attitudes that negate Christian principles. It is not as if God cherishes the demise of the wicked, but that He relishes in his conversion to better decisions. The death of a sinner is painful to the very core of God, which leads us to appreciate prophecy even in modern times. God desires the change of the sinner’s heart so that he can make godly choices and live in the light of God.
This concept is clearly explained by Jesus with the example of a man and his brother. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” You may not have a biological brother, so supplant that with a sister. Two siblings need to sort out their differences in an understandable manner without resorting to violence. Indeed, two friends need to discuss their disagreements without breaking their relationship. In the family setting, a storm in a teacup should not degenerate into a conflagration of regrettable nature.
Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A Pray for Forgiveness from Above Rev. Victor C. Yakubu, Parochial Administrator That is why Jesus offers us new insights into resolving overwhelming problems affecting our relationships by bringing two or three witnesses to the dialogue table. When this stage fails, we can transfer our case to the Church. When the Church fails to get warring parties to resolve their differences, then we can refer to such people as “Gentiles” or “tax collectors.” Jewish culture had no integrity for such names.
The reference to “Gentiles" or “tax collectors” is indicative of a serious situation when someone has refused all forms of arbitration as unworthy of resolving a case. This attitude shows a lack of love and causes great pain to the other party. We willingly drive a simple matter into state adjudication that takes years and deep pockets to resolve. St. Paul writing to the Romans said, “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” Love covers all weaknesses of our opponents and brings out the best in us. Who among us can boast that he is without sin? At one point in our lives, a single individual renewed our lives by simply forgiving us. How many times did your mother or father forgave you? When that happens, therefore, why can’t you forgive your opponent and share the joy of a renewed relationship?
Mark Twain once said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” The Christian life offers us the opportunity of embracing the steps as laid down by Jesus in today’s gospel. Luke 6: 38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Candid forgiveness is that which comes from the heart. In this way, the wicked need to seek the forgiveness of God for all the pain caused to others. The spouse who seeks sincere reconciliation with an estranged spouse will find love beyond all measure. Pope Francis at his first angelus in March 2013 reminded us, “The Lord never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.” Exercise your free will by seeking reconciliation, for true forgiveness can only come from above.
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