Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants (Matt 18:21-23)

The application of the parable in our gospel reading for today is very urgent and timely as forgiveness lies at the heart of Christian faith and personal healing. The depth of Christian spirituality shows us how divine it is to forgive and also demonstrates the revolutionary, transforming and positive power of forgiveness. Familiar as it is, l often wonder whether we really mean what we say when we repeat the plea in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ Forgiveness is a door to peace, revival and happiness.

Humility is the essence of forgiveness. Pride and unforgiveness strain relationships, and could create an environment in which peace or revival is impossible. The cruellest prison of all is the prison of an unforgiving mind and spirit. Personal revival cannot occur without Christian love and humility. Just as God’s forgiveness comes from His love for us, the failure to forgive others stems from our failure to love them. Christian witness calls us to be willing to forgive those who offends us just as we expect God’s immediate and complete forgiveness when we sinned against Him. You cannot sincerely forgive without loving. Are you as unfeeling as a rock? Joseph and his brothers’ story provides us a helpful reflection. Forgiveness is not weakness but a source of healing power.

Dearly beloved, has someone hurt you so deeply that you are harbouring unforgiveness? The cancer of bitterness and ‘resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.’ Make the decision right now to forgive. Revival and peace cannot be present where forgiveness is absent. Forgiveness begins with God’s forgiveness of you, but it must include your forgiveness of others. There is vertical forgiveness, which is God’s forgiveness of you and me. And there is horizontal forgiveness, which involves your forgiveness of others, and your seeking forgiveness from those whom you have wronged.

To experience personal revival, you must also forgive yourself. Stop being your own worst critic. Self-criticism promotes self- destruction and depression. Joan Lunden explained that ‘holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.’ Regardless of your feeling of guiltiness, you deserve God’s forgiveness. God is powerful to forgive your sin because, it is all about what He has done which makes no difference what you have done. Remember, you cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if you are so busy clinging to past wounds and nursing old grudges. Bitter people on the outside may appear to be calm and composed, but inside they are about to burst with pent-up feelings. They have an amazing memory for the tiniest detail, defend their grudges constantly, and wallow in self pity and resentment. Justice can never be found on human terms. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, just as violence multiplies violence. The parable of the unforgiving debtor calls us to forgive by lovingly and generously transforming an enemy into a friend. Whoever is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you’ – C.S Lewis