Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Forgiveness – a Christian virtue

Matthew 18:21-35

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”(V. 35)

This parable tells the story of a servant who was forgiven a very large debt (ten thousand bags of gold) by his king. Yet, he was not able to forgive his own servant a very small debt (one hundred silver coins). When we recognize God’s amazing love, mercy and forgiveness towards us, we should be moved to love and forgive others. Jesus calls us to “forgive from our heart” as holding grudge will destroy us from inside out. Lack of forgiveness shackles us to the past, causes negative thoughts to cloud our mind and robs us of our energy to be in the present moment. In order to be truly liberated, not taking revenge is not enough; we must totally forgive and love the person who wronged us.

In his classic novel, “Le Miserables” Victor Hugo tells the story of Jean Valjean, a convicted criminal, who was imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his starving sister and family. He escapes from prison and sleeps on the streets, angry and bitter. He shows up at the door of an elderly benevolent Bishop Myriel, asking a place to stay the night. Myriel graciously accepts him, feeds him, and gives him a bed. Valjean takes most of Myriel 's silver and runs off in the night. The police capture Valjean and take him back to face Myriel. When the police inform Myriel they have found the silver in Valjean's knapsack, Myriel tells the police that he had given them to Valjean as a gift. He chastises Valjean for not taking the silver candlesticks as well. After the police leave, Myriel tells Valjean:

            But remember this, my brother
            See in this some higher plan
            You must use this precious silver
            To become an honest man

Eventually Valjean became a successful businessman and a mayor of his town. He used his power to uplift the wretched and poor. An act of forgiveness by the bishop redeemed Valjean, transformed him and helped him to become a force for good.

Forgiving from the heart would help us not to repeat the incident to any one else and uproot it from our memory. It would empower us to pray for the person who hurt us and do good to that person. It would liberate us and grant us the ‘abundant life’ that Jesus promised. Just like in “Le Miserables” the person who caused the pain could be transformed and become a force for good, thus bringing the Kingdom of God here on earth.


Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive our sins and shortcomings. Help us to forgive from our heart those who have wronged us, pray for them and do good to them….Amen

Thought of the Day: “To err is human but to forgive is divine.”


                                         John Abraham, Carmel MTC, Boston.

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