Like many sixty-something adults, I have a host chronic illnesses. For me, I’ve had asthma for sixty-something years. It’s become so much of my life it is no longer on my prayer radar.
Today’s readings suggest a possible link between chronic illnesses and chronic unforgiveness.
- (Sirach 28) “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?”
- (Psalm 103) “He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.”
- (Matthew 18) “Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
Jesus shocked the legal experts of His day asking, “Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’? (Mark 2)” Equally shocking was Jesus’ question to the invalid of 38 years, “Do you want to be healed? (John 5). ”
Jesus explains, “Chronic illness may be something (not always) you chronically choose.”
Healing of our bodies is God’s business and ours! The late John Wimber tells the story of a dying woman who harbored resentment towards her sister. God’s grace stirred her to write a letter seeking reconciliation. The moment the dying lady placed the letter in the mailbox, her cancer retreated. God chose to fulfill Psalm 103.
Forgiveness is God’s business and ours! God provides the grace and we must by the act of the will chronically forgive. To paraphrase the words of Thomas Aquinas, if you want to go to heaven, you have to “will it.”
Choose forgiveness and live forever.
Today Pope Francis preached, “”Always, you must always forgive!” because “the human being, created in the image of God, is always greater than the evil that he commits”: