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     Forgive Others as God has Forgiven You


    There is a story of a young man who did not know whether or not there was a God.  The young man was climbing a very high mountain and lost his balance and fell off the mountain.  In the course of his fall, the young man caught himself on a tree branch on the side of the mountain and he hung on that tree branch for dear life.  He looked at the drop below of thousands of feet.  Then, he looked up at the sky above and cried out, “O God, I do not know if you are up there or not.  Please help me if you are there.  I will do anything you say.”  A voice came from the heavens, “This is God.”  The young man pleaded again, “O God, please help me.  I will do anything you say.  Please help me.”  Then God spoke these words, “Let go of the branch!”  The young man looked down at the drop of thousands of feet; then the young man looked up again and cried out, “Is there anyone else up there?”


    In our First Reading the author Sirach invites us to let go of the branches of wrath, anger, vengeance and hate.  The author states, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.  Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?”  The author further states, if you want mercy from God, you must show mercy to others.  He further exhorts us to set enmity aside, to get rid of all negative thoughts and feelings towards others.


    In the Gospel, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus’ answer is translated as 77 times or 7 times 70 times which comes to 490 times.  The answer is in the form of hyperbole.  It is not about counting the exact number of times.  It is not about calculating times hurt and keeping score.  It is not limited.  Seventy-seven (77) times or 7 times 70 times is symbolic of the truth that you are always called to forgive as God has forgiven you.


    Certainly, we can acknowledge our hurt, but then comes the time to move on.  In the Our Father, we pray forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  On a humorous level a child repeated that line as follows, “Forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets…and deliver us from email.  Amen!”  That prayer does not make any sense if you are harboring hostility, hate, anger towards another because  you are then in fact praying…and do not forgive me as I do not forgive this person or that person.  Forgiveness does not approve the injury.  Forgiveness sets you and the other person free.


    In forgiveness, you do not allow a negative experience to define you.  Michelle Knight, one of the three women kidnapped and horribly abused by Ariel Castro in Cleveland was able to forgive her captor.  She stated that these ten years of hurt would not define her.  She would define who she was.  Namely, a person who is free to become the person that God wants her to be.


    You will find freedom and peace, similarly if you can let go of the branches of past hurt, the branches of anger, hostility and vengeance.  The model of Forgiveness is Jesus on the Cross who says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  As Christ has forgiven you, you are called to forgive others completely from the heart.  Look at the Crucifix.  Pray that the forgiveness of Christ can come into you so that you can forgive the person who hurt you.


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    May our prayers bring healing, comfort and strength to the sick and their caregivers, remembering especially Mary Adams,
    Greg Basco, Gwen Beres, Mary Ann Betliskey, Phillip Bilelo, Noella Burrows, Pat Colburn,
    Donna Czyzynski, Judy Davis, Corrine Dawe, Carole Dlouhy, Robert Dunning, Jose Dybzinski, Jason Glaros, Judy Glaros, Ron Glaros,
    Kristin Hill, Millie Jasany, Suzanne Kilker,
    Lucy Konkoly, Tom Konkoly,
    Judy Landolph, Bishop Richard Lennon,
    John Limber, Barbie Lister, Art Madsen,
    Therese McFadden, Rose Meadows, 
    Jeanette Miller, Marguerite Miller,
    Jeannette Morrow, Louis Novac,
    Art Novotny, Dan Palmentera,
    John Pocius, Betty Rhine, Brianna Rhine,
    Patricia Rhine, Joel Rivera, Bob Schippling, Margaret Slechta, Elaine Stack, Brian Storey,
    Rev. John Tezie, Aaron Thiem,
    Andrew Turowski, Ed Vitigoj, Carole Walk,        Ron Walk, Robert Wagner and David Zelenka.
                May our Loved Ones who have died rest in eternal peace in heaven remembering especially Ronald Dobransky, whose funeral is Monday, September 25th.
                            For the Men and Women serving in the military, especially those from our parish & their families.