How easy it is to let critical or judgmental thoughts about others into our minds. Yet, how difficult it is to stop these thoughts from taking root in our hearts and leading to resentment and division. That’s why the lesson in today’s gospel is so important.
When Our Lord told his disciples that they had to be reconciled with one another, he wasn’t necessarily talking about something major, like murder, theft, or adultery. Resentment can start with something as simple as someone looking at us the wrong way, let alone being unkind to us. What’s more, the other person may indeed be to blame. And yet if we don’t forgive them, we risk becoming angry, and that anger can lead ultimately to hatred, which cuts us off from God and our neighbour.
Now we don’t have to be rocket scientists to understand Our Lord’s teaching. We can’t sow weeds and expect beautiful flowers to appear. Our Lord tells us: With the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get (Matthew 7:1-2). But thankfully, the opposite is also true. If we sow mercy and forgiveness, we will reap mercy and forgiveness, and healing as well. Forgiveness frees us, and frees the person who has wronged us from the chains we have bound them in.
Lent is a time for examining our relationship with God and with one another. Even in a religious community we can be mean with dispensing forgiveness. But if we make even the smallest step towards forgiveness, then we can trust that God will help us, because God wants all of his children to live together in unity.