Thursday, June 5, 2008

Unconditional love and forgiveness

If we take note of yesterday’s Gospel reading, the Sadducees try to trap Jesus with a trick question on marriage based on the Old Testament Scriptures, but Jesus readily corrects them: “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?… He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”. There are many instances in the books of the gospels where Jesus rebukes and corrects the Pharisees, the Sadducees, even his own disciples often enough when the situation calls for it, but his ministry stands out not because of those corrections he made. Jesus’ ministry stands out with preaching the Gospel in words and in deed, the greatest deed of which is the supreme sacrifice on the cross – the epitome of unconditional love. The theme continues with today’s Gospel: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength... You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”. Unconditional love comes with an eagerness to forgive. On the matter of forgiveness, again I quote Henry Nouwen who says that “forgiveness has two qualities: one is to allow yourself to be forgiven, and the other is to forgive others”. The first quality is harder than the second. It may put one in an irrational defensive mode where one might say “I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t need your forgiveness”. We have ALL sinned against each other in one way or another, some more grievous than others, which calls for a contrite and deep examination of conscience. True restoration begins with the person. We are at peace when we are reconciled with God, relaxed and breathing easily as we go on with renewed vigor of putting our charisms at work, comforted by the embrace of a forgiving God.

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