Homily – April 28, 2019

We can just imagine the shame and the embarrassment the Apostles felt when they remembered their cowardliness and how they denied and betrayed and abandoned Jesus to his fate at the hands of those who were out to destroy him and his reputation.

But in our gospel we see Jesus coming among them and offering them peace. Then Jesus shows them the gaping wounds in his hands and side. Wounds that are blazing  badges of his love for each of them. Wounds that say, ‘let’s put all this behind us, all is forgiven.’

Then Jesus breathes on them a breath that gives them the power to forgive, forgive the hurt and harm they will suffer as they carry the message of his cross and resurrection to the world. Forgiveness and the peace that comes with it is one of the great themes of Jesus mission. When Peter once asked.’ How many times must I forgive, seven?, Jesus answered not a stingy seven times but seventy times seven. A limitless number! Peter gets a warning, if you can’t find it in your heart to forgive others; God won’t find it in God’s heart to forgive you.

Don’t we pray every day,’ forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?

Can you imagine what a challenge faces our fellow Catholics in Sri Lanka this Sunday as they continue  to bury their murdered children or spouses, victims of terror on Easter Sunday?  They are challenged to forgive. This is what today’s gospel calls them to do. It may take them a long time to do this, some may never will.

Forgive does not mean forget. Every time we meet a person, maybe a betraying spouse, a son or daughter who we feel let us down or wasted their God-given talents, or a business person who cheated us. Feelings of anger and resentment rise up in us like bile, we can’t forget, it’s a memory that won’t go away. But we can forgive, we must forgive. The truth of the matter is the unforgiving heart languishes unforgiven and incapable of receiving forgiveness.

Forgiveness and the peace that comes with it is the great teaching of Jesus. One of the last prayers he prayed on his cross was; ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do. As we live our faith in this holy season of the Resurrection may we all be graced to pass on to others who may have harmed us, the forgiveness we’ve received from our crucified and risen Lord.