A whole lot of forgiving going on

In the Gospel from today’s Mass, Peter poses a question:

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

Jesus then goes on with the parable of the servant who was to be sold along with wife and family and possessions to pay off a debt, then begged and received forgiveness. In turn, this same servant failed to show the same leniency in forgiving a debt that he was owed. He paid for his lack of forgiveness. (Read the full Gospel reading at Matthew 18:21-35.)

What does this mean for us sober alcoholics? Quite simple, as we have made amendments to God and to others for our past wrongdoings and have sought and perhaps received forgiveness, so must we show forgiveness to others for their transgressions against us.

In cruder terms, we screw-ups generally recognize such behavior in others and should be more forgiving of it. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. How can we, of all people, sit in judgment of others?

As Christians, we can judge another’s behavior to a degree, but we cannot judge the person. In judging another’s actions, we must be charitable and understanding of that person’s dignity as a child of God. We do not tolerate and condone sinful behavior, we just retain awareness that we also were gravely sinful, and caution others in a loving manner of what we see as a wrong.

We sinned. We’ve asked forgiveness. We’ve received it. Others sin against us, and whether they ask for it or not, we forgive them. This cuts the bond that the trangression holds over us. As the servant in the parable failed to forgive the debt owed to him, and as a result was sent to prison to be tortured for his treatment of the other servant, so too, will our lack of forgiveness be like a prison of torture for us, as long as we hold onto the resentment over the action.

It goes deeper. In the Lord’s Prayer, also known as the “Our Father”, which is said at the end of many AA meetings in North America, there are the words: “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In other words, there is more to forgiveness than merely releasing resentment against another. The degree to which we forgive other people is the degree to which we will be forgiven by God. No matter how much we beg forgiveness for ourselves, if we lack forgiveness for others, it will be lacking towards us from God.

It is only fair. We want something for ourselves, we should aid others in receiving it.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"