Keys of Forgiveness: A Reflection from the Christian Traditions Posted September 12, 2020 by admin@interfaith


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September 12, 2020
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A Reflection from the Christian Traditions
Matthew 18:21-35
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
The powerful verses on forgiveness conclude with Matthew 18: 21-35, a parable unique to the Gospel of St. Matthew. The rich metaphor of “the Keys of Forgiveness” (see Matthew 16: 19) continues to influence what is now known as “The Community Rule.” No community, family, or organization can long survive or live in peace without forgiveness. Forgiveness is, indeed, the Rule of Life.
Forgiveness is a complex virtue touching every aspect of life. Not only do we need to forgive one another of our faults, we might even need to forgive another person for their giftedness. It is ironic we often resent the successes of others. We need to release ourselves from all envy or jealousy so we may treasure another’s success or giftedness as a blessing.
Sometimes we might even need to forgive ourselves for being gifted or successful. It may seem odd to think of forgiveness this way. Try to think of forgiveness not only in terms of absolution but release. We bless others when we embrace our giftedness and release our talents for the sake of others. No virtue exists in isolation. Forgiveness requires we live our lives with a heightened sense of responsibility to all. Forgiveness compels us to do what is best for others even if it is difficult.    
Much damage has been done by thinking forgiveness only deals with sin, faults, and failures. Remember, the “Keys” unlock the doors of the heart so our arms might hold and embrace those we meet along the pathways of life. We share with others, what we hope they will share with us, the treasures of our person and the uniqueness of our heart. Imagine living in a World where we no longer need to compete with one another. Imagine a World where we would appreciate one another. Once we allow and invite others to be greater than ourselves, we can live lives free from resentment, envy, jealously, and ridicule. We can live lives for the sake of one another.
One day after class, she went out of her way to thank me for my teaching. She shared with me what she was discovering and how important the class was to her life. I was embarrassed and surprised. This is a perfect example of the student who taught the teacher a few things about what it means to be humane, grateful, and generous. I pledged from that day forward to, at least, try to learn from everyone I would meet no matter how simple the lesson.
The Parable in Matthew 18: 23-35 invites us to learn a few things from our life experiences and our dealings with other people. Jesus never rejected sinners. He loved them and learned from them. Jesus always challenged his disciples to practice forgiveness in all the affairs of their lives. 
Not a day goes by when life does not tempt us to be intolerant, resentful, or afraid. Forgiveness of self and others releases us to be our best selves for the sake of others no matter the circumstances.     
Thank you, Holy Community, and blessings to you for teaching me a few things about what it means to forgive, for blessing the World with your courage to forgive and understand.