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Vengeance and Forgiveness (24th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Posted : Sep-15-2023

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One of the seven deadly sins is anger. The Bible repeatedly warns against unforgiveness and holding grudges towards others. This is the theme that appears in this Sunday's readings. In this passage of Sirach in particular, we are told that the Lord's forgiveness is conditional upon our own forgiving others. He will not look upon us with favour if we come to Him for pardon yet we ourselves have not pardoned those who have wronged us. The presence of this teaching in Sirach shows that it has Old Testament roots, which is carried over into the New.

Thus we are taught to pray in the Our Father “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). Likewise, St. Paul told us, “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). This means that whatever conflict we have with others, we ought to resolve as soon as possible, and not allow it to go on for an extended period of time.

When we forgive others and show kindness to our enemy, we show that we are better than them. Proverbs 25:22 teaches us that if we show kindness to our enemy, “for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” We are further told that God will avenge us if we choose not to take vengeance upon those who wrong us. As St. Paul states: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:18).

In this way, if we show forgiveness towards others, we will receive justice on the last day, which is infinitely greater than any earthly justice. This is the true justice which we should strive for.

J. Luis Dizon