The older we get the harder it gets to free ourselves of the pains associated with other people; we have a hard time forgiving. Here in Toronto I meet regularly with the Associates, men who are actively and seriously discerning the priesthood. One of the keys we recommend to these men is to make for themselves a commitment to ongoing and regular confession. We need to drop off our sins and be free of them so that the Lord of the harvest can cultivate the “wheat” of our faith. In order for the wheat to flourish, we need to be rid of the weeds, and so often its sin that gets in the way of proper vocational discernment.
Today’s Gospel calls us specifically to forgive our brother or sister before we come forward, and what I can offer you as both a penitent and confessor is that most of us struggle in the area of charity with others in various ways more than anything else. Many of us priests often give as a penance, acts of charity because kindness, love and generosity with others can unwind even the most sinful habits of uncharity. It doesn’t take long for us to build up a hardened and callous wall of resistance by the hurt, betrayal, unkindness, mean-spiritedness we experience at the hand of others. We become defensive to protect ourselves from being hurt again. The one thing which can’t penetrate this defensive wall is love, kindness and goodness – because when we are this way, or we react to hurt we are skeptical of anything good. Love, kindness and charity; these things open us up and make us vulnerable and we can and often are hurt by people [just as our Lord Himself was] but if we hold back we will never know what we could have done or more importantly, what the Lord has called us to do in this world. Friends, I encourage you today to hear the Lord: be big on this one and forgive the person or people who have hurt you or seek to be forgiven by someone you’ve hurt and be assured that free at last, the Lord will reveal something greater in store for you on the other side of that wall. May God bless you.