Ezekiel: The mercy and justice of God
Suffering evil at the hands of man is evil.
"They shouldn't have done that."
But hating the evildoers is an evil in itself. We must not let resentment separate us from the love of God.
"Forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of those who trespass against us."
21 But if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live. He shall not die!
22 None of the crimes he has committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the justice he has shown.
23 Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked — oracle of the Lord GOD? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live?
24 And if the just turn from justice and do evil, like all the abominations the wicked do, can they do this evil and still live? None of the justice they did shall be remembered, because they acted treacherously and committed these sins; because of this, they shall die.
25 You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair? Are not your ways unfair?
26 When the just turn away from justice to do evil and die, on account of the evil they did they must die.
27 But if the wicked turn from the wickedness they did and do what is right and just, they save their lives;
28 since they turned away from all the sins they committed, they shall live; they shall not die.
Parable of the Laborers
Resentment at newcomers:
- Early disciples vs. later disciples called by Jesus
- The good thief
- The Twelve vs. Paul
- Jews vs. Gentiles
- Catholics vs. Evangelicals
- The Merciful Father
- The Resentful Elder Brother
- "But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful.
- "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."
Praying for Sinners
13 I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.
14 And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours.
16 If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and He will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray.
17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.
Fr. Robert Degrandis
- Forgive God: let go of resentments caused by our expectations of what God could or should have done to protect us or those whom we love from suffering.
- Forgive ourselves. Perfectionism breeds depression. We cannot hate ourselves into loving God and accepting His mercy. Our relationship with Jesus begins with His decision to forgive us our sins and to join us to Himself — just as we really are today, right now. The enemy of our human nature torments us as an "angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14).
- Forgive the people with whom we relate regularly and personally: family, friends, coworkers, parishioners, acquaintances.
- Forgive public sinners and strangers.
Any of these relationships can be the source of feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, or rage.
We get angry when we feel hurt.
So, the question for our enemies list is: Who do we feel is hurting us?
If we hate those who hate us, we will become like them. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who injure us because it is good for us to forgive them. Resentment keeps the wounds open; mercy heals them.
- "Seventy times seven love"
- We are not allowed to give up on forgiving those who hurt us. We do not condone their sins or their sickness by forgiving them. We see that they are within Jesus' reach. He came to heal the sick and to forgive the sinful. "Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners'" (Mk 2:17).
Father's theme song
I'm trying to recall these lyrics. I haven't been able to find them on the internet, so far.
- The Spirit of the LORD is upon me
- to make the lame to walk and make the blind to see,
- to open prison doors and set the captives free —
- the Spirit of the LORD is now on me.
My friend, John Carlin, painted a picture of his two dogs as "Guardians at Gate 12." (In the Book of Revelation, there are "twelve gates to the city.")
The real guardians at the gate are not those whom we love with all our hearts but the people we find it hardest to forgive.
If we can't let go of our grudges against them, we can't enter Heaven.
For some, it might be Hitler or Stalin or Osama bin Laden or Barak Hussein Obama.
It might be someone from our family or from work.
A rapist, a murderer, a thief or some other kind of soul-slayer.
If we can't forgive those who have hurt us the worst, we can't get through the narrow gate. There is no room in Heaven for resentment.
We can't paint that picture for anyone else. We must find out for ourselves who it is who would bar our way at Heaven's Gate.
Formula for Absolution
Only ordained priests can use these words to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. But I believe that every one of us can and should use this formula, or something like it, to absolve our enemies from the harm that they have done us so that we will be protected from the poison of resentment. When a layperson says, "I absolve you from your sins," it is a real act of mercy even though it is not a sacrament. These are the words we want to hear "through the ministry of the Church" for our own sins; I think it is good for us to say them explicitly in order to practice forgiving those who have sinned against us.
- God, the Father of mercies,
- through the death and the resurrection of his Son
- has reconciled the world to himself
- and sent the Holy Spirit among us
- for the forgiveness of sins;
- through the ministry of the Church
- may God give you pardon and peace,
- and I absolve you from your sins
- in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Forgiveness is a skill gained by practice
John Sack: "Hate is a muscle, and if we want to be monsters all we have to do is exercise it."
Love is also a muscle that grows with exercise.
This is true of all virtues.
We learned how to walk by walking poorly at first.
We learned how to talk by talking poorly at first.
We learn how to love by loving.
We learn how to forgive by forgiving.
Forgiveness is a decision that does not minimize, alter, or deny the reality of wrongdoing.
It does not condone evil.
It puts an end to its effects in us.
When we first realize that we have been hurt by someone else, our first instinct is to get even an get revenge.
It is OK to feel those feelings and to know how much we have been harmed.
It is not OK to be led down the path of hatred and resentment by our feelings.
The more we practice forgiving, the more we will feel the power of forgiveness acting in and through us.
- Internet meme
- Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.