Jesus’ message was new and shocking for the religious leaders of his day. Their law decreed “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In other words, they were expected to strike back at those who harmed them in any way. It is in a gospel like that presented to us today that we see just how radical and revolutionary Jesus’ teaching must have sounded back then. Indeed, it is still quite revolutionary in today’s world, with our dog-eat-dog mentality. The process of salvation which he had come to establish would be based on forgiveness, and, therefore, to be part of, and to belong to that process must put each of us right Out there in the front line of tolerance, forgiveness, and love.
Look in a mirror, reflecting on the failures and sin in your life. Take as much time as you need. You are going to ask God’s forgiveness, you are going to offer amendment, to move forward from here. Ask yourself this question: Can you absolve yourself before asking God to forgive you? Guilt is not from God. Rather is it your own inability to forgive yourself. A leading psychiatrist said that he could discharge two-thirds of his patients immediately if he could get them to forgive themselves. Jesus taught us one simple prayer, which we call the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer. It is a simple prayer, and it is quite short. One of the petitions is where we ask God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We can rattle off this prayer, and fail to realise the bind in which it can place us.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to forgive us on one condition, which is that we will forgive others in our turn. There is a proven power in forgiveness and love. “Blessed are the meek” says Jesus, “they shall possess the earth.” We are impressed by the power of forgiveness shown by characters like Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and others who somehow managed to turn the other cheek. The bully cannot deal with the power of the one who won’t strike back, but often resorts to violence as the only way to silence their voice of protest. To err is human, to forgive is divine. We would aim to be big-hearted, tolerant and patient.. But the ideal Jesus sets for us is, “Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father is merciful.