September 19, 2017 v4 p37
Christians are called to forgive those who anger or offend us. This week’s readings at Mass were a clear reminder of why.
I’ve been trying my hardest to remember that I must forgive my fellow man. It’s been a something that I had trouble with in the past. Before returning to my faith I would make sure that I would go out of my way to try to get back at those who would did things to cause me difficulties. I felt that I should just do the same thing to them that they did to me. What I was forgetting was that if I considered myself a Christian, I still had to live a Christian life, even if I wasn’t attending church. Ultimately what that would cause ended up being worse than the original offense.
As I started to learn more about my faith I began to see how wrong I was in the past. I began to forgive people that weren’t really involved in my personal life. Driving is a perfect example of this. I used to get road rage really quickly, and really bad. Every one of us, including myself, is guilty of driving like an idiot. I really believe this is the root of a lot of problems in our society. Almost everyone starts their day by having to drive somewhere. Whether it’s to work or to drop the kids off at school, we’re in our cars. It is rare lately that I go somewhere and I don’t see someone else do something on the road that really makes me shake my head in disbelief. It’s not just texting or other distractions, although those are a big cause of it. Too many people just don’t care that everyone else on the road has somewhere to go as well. If you’re in such a hurry that you must drive in such a manner that you cause others anger, then maybe you need to plan your time better to allow yourself more time. This way you don’t have to drive so fast. If you needed to drive that fast then your vehicle would have lights on top and sirens.
More times than I can count I have gotten places and have been so riled up by the way other people have treated me on the road that my attitude has really gone sour. That sets the tone for the rest of the day. Nobody tries to go out on the road and be a jerk to everyone, if you do then you’re just a jerk. Unfortunately too many people have been treated like jerks, get to their destination, and then treat other people like jerks. I’ve learned that nothing I can do, on the road or afterwards, is going to change whatever reason people feel it necessary to act so selfishly when they drive.
On a personal level I’ve become much more adept at knowing when I need to forgive people. There are still occasions where I have a tough time forgiving people. Through my learning I have discovered that I don’t always have to give people the forgiveness they deserve right away. I am allowed to be upset about how people have treated me, and try to figure out if there is something I’ve done that could have caused it. I’ve been known to stew on things for much longer than I should. It’s those times that I must turn to my prayer life to find it in myself to forgive. Only after that can I truly put the incident behind me and move on. Sometimes I’m not always able to get away and into that prayer that I need, and it causes me to hold onto that anger longer than I should. I’m finding ways to get to a place where I can pray quicker, because holding onto the anger is never good.
In Matthew 18:22 Jesus tells us that we must forgive our brothers “Not seven times, but seventy times seven times.” That doesn’t mean literally 490 times. It means that we must always forgive our brothers. I had a former coworker who really showed this to me. It was on a weekly basis, sometimes daily, that his actions warranted me have to forgive him. He didn’t necessarily do something directly against me, but his actions and words continually would cause problems. I would often come home and complain to my wife about it. Unfortunately when I did that she felt that I was yelling at her, not directly at her, but I would get so riled up over things that I would be raising my voice in disbelief of his actions. I would then forgive him and finally be able to move on.
It was during some of my studying about my faith that I came across this passage in scripture that I realized how I needed to change. I would continue to forgive him but I couldn’t understand how long it would have to continue. I would start to ask my wife why anyone would continue to act in these ways and not see how it was effecting everything around him. Then I realized that he wasn’t going to change, but wondered if I needed to continue to forgive him. I don’t remember what resource it was that I was reading on this passage in Matthew’s Gospel, but it finally clicked. I was going to have to continue to give forgiveness as long as this situation was a part of my life. There would be no end to it, and if I didn’t continue to forgive, then there would be no end to my frustration. After I realized that I found it easier to deal with the poor attitude and actually found enough confidence in myself to try and find a way to point out to him what his actions did, without flat out calling him a jerk. Eventually his poor attitude ended up being his downfall.
I’m still faced with the need to forgive my coworkers because of their attitudes. For the most part everyone I work with is great and will go out of their way to do things right. There a few who have a cynical outlook, and really don’t care if they offend others. I don’t have to deal with them much on a professional level so I am faced with the need to forgive less than before. This past week however it did come up, and it wasn’t about anything work related. As I heard in last week’s Gospel reading, I went to him and he wouldn’t hear out what I wanted to say. Others agreed that he wouldn’t change. So as I learned in Matthew 18:17 if he still won’t listen, then I should “treat him as a pagan or a tax collector.” I said my prayers, gave him the forgiveness I needed to and decided that there is no need for me to talk to him unless it had to do with something work related. Doing anything else will only continue to cause me problems.
Forgiving someone who sins against you is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Maybe if everyone tried harder to forgive then there would be less need for it to begin with.