by Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza
There were two brothers, living side-by-side in the field, who had a long-standing argument. The conflict caused the elder brother to create a river in the middle. One day a carpenter knocked at the door of the younger brother for service. The younger brother instructed him to build a high fence that would permanently separate him from his brother. After giving instructions, the younger brother left for an errand. When he came back, he noticed a huge bridge across their houses instead of the fence. He saw his elder brother standing, looking at him on the other side. Feeling sorry, the younger brother ran to his brother and asked for forgiveness. That concluded their longtime misunderstanding. They were truly grateful to the carpenter for reconciling them.
Even before, having a bridge is important as it serves as a road to cross a body of water. A bridge may also pertain to places, circumstances, events and people that performs to connect like a bridge. The readings for this Sunday speak of the bridge as a human or a divine activity. Most especially, amidst the culture of divorce, killings, road rage, abandonment, disputes, depression and the like, God desires that each of us serves as a bridge of unity and forgiveness to one another.
In the First Reading, David chose not to take advantage of killing Saul though he had the best opportunity to take revenge. Abishai even encouraged him, “God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day. Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I will not need a second thrust!” “Do not harm him,” replied David “for who can lay hands on the LORD’s anointed and remain unpunished (1 Sm. 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23)?” David knew his accountability to God if he took away Saul’s life either for a noble purpose or vengeance. He knew it would be unjustifiable before God. In this example, David’s action served as a bridge of forgiveness. When David risked his own life by not taking revenge, but to trust God who judges justly, this made a way for them to be reconciled. However, it seemed a bit unfair for it only benefited the enemies, didn’t it?
The Gospel makes us realize that forgiving those who hurt us is primarily an advantage. “Forgive and you will be forgiven,” said Jesus. “Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. (Lk. 6:27-38).” When I was in school, my peers had insulted me repeatedly. I was embarrassed for many times. It hurt me most when I discovered that my trusted friends betrayed me. Frequently, I had brought my parents to tears. Thus, I admit I had several weak moments and shortcomings in the past. I had been selfish to myself that I lost many good opportunities to grow and excel. In order to move forward, I learned to forgive myself first for the mistakes I made in the past. It was only then that I found the courage to ask forgiveness from people I had hurt. Thereafter, I was healed and recomposed. It paved me the way to forgive whole-heartedly those who hurt me. Overcoming unforgiveness brought me peace, love, faith and happiness. It made my journey light, free from unhealthy and destructive baggages. These are the rewards of a heart that is willing to forgive and be forgiven.
Furthermore, we need to draw strength from the ultimate source of forgiveness. Without God working in my life through hard times, such healing would never be possible. Truly, it could be painful and humbling to wish our offenders well, pray for them and let go of revenge. If God was able to forgive a sinner like me, how much more should I forgive others and myself?
Forgiveness, also, allows us to participate in the divine image and likeness of God. The Second Reading clarifies that we possess characteristics of God.
Hence, when we forgive we become more human and children of God. “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,” explained St. Paul “We shall also bear the image of the heavenly one (1 Cor. 15:45-49).” In the end, forgiveness remains the only key to an eternal peace and happiness of life in Heaven. As George Herbert would say it, “He who cannot forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass.”
(You can reach me through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org)