Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Joshua 3:7-10,11,13-17
Gospel Matthew 18:21—19:1

"‘So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.’"

The home in which we find the deepest sort of forgiveness, a selfless and generous forgiveness that seeks to build up the one who has transgressed: this is our truest home. Christ speaks of this authentic forgiveness in today’s Gospel passage, helping us by His words to see what He will show us on Calvary.

The Church, in which we share in the Sacrifice of Christ’s Body, is our truest home. By right, we should feel most at home before the altar, because it is there that we rejoice in the source of all forgiveness. But in the Church during Holy Mass, we give thanks not only for the forgiveness wrought by Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross. We also give thanks for the fact that when we share fully in this sacrament, we receive not only a share in Christ’s forgiveness. We receive a share in the life of Christ himself. We receive not only the Forgiver’s forgiveness. We receive the Forgiver.

To receive forgiveness is to be restored to our former self. But to receive the Forgiver: this means not simply that we’re restored to our former self, but that we’re raised from our state of sinfulness to a state even higher than our old self, to a share in the life of the Forgiver’s Self. We share in the life of Christ, and so are given the power to forgive others as Christ offers forgiveness: to all persons, in all circumstances, for ever and ever.