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Gospel reflection

September 17, 2023: Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-22 (excerpted from 18:21-35)

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.”


Forgiveness is a practice and a way of life. That is what I hear Jesus say when he responds to Peter. When others suggest that we forgive ourselves or others, it may sound like something that can happen in an instant. While this may happen in a few cases, forgiveness is usually a process that can take a long time. Perhaps what the other person sees – when they suggest forgiveness – is that whatever you are holding on to is holding you back. They want you to be free. Forgiveness is often not for whom or what harmed us, it is for our own well-being.

In order for forgiveness to be genuine and complete, it requires much deeper work than saying “I forgive you” – although this is a start. Forgiveness done well starts with ourselves. We must first attend to the suffering we are feeling. We need to acknowledge and sit with the pain. As we do, we can offer this injured part of ourselves gentleness, curiosity, and compassion. We might become aware of the stories we are telling ourselves and what we are believing. Often, we need to pray for guidance and be open to grace. We cannot skip these steps. If we do, we might find forgiveness doesn’t stick.

Once we have tended well to our wounds, stories, and beliefs, then we may choose to turn our gentleness, curiosity, and compassion toward the one(s) who hurt us. In this way, we may begin to experience the release and freedom forgiveness can bring. Remember, forgiveness does not mean that you have to let an abusive or violent person back into your life. You may not even ever talk with the person you’ve received the grace to forgive. Often distance from another is an act of love for ourselves and respect for where the other is on their journey.


What is something you may be holding on to that is holding you back from being able to forgive?

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Sister Corbin Hannah

Sister Corbin Hannah

Sister Corbin has been a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods since 2009. She has a master’s degree in Social Work and is currently ministering at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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  1. Avatar Kitty Saunders on September 15, 2023 at 11:21 am

    Thank you, Sister, for this beautiful reflection. As a woman of (almost) 71years, I’ve had experiences on both sides of this issue. I’ve had the chance over the years to read about, pray, consult, cry and consider this difficult issue as I’ve lived my faith journey. This has to be one of the most beautiful and succinct reflections I’ve ever come across and with your permission I hope to share it with a few friends who might enjoy it’s beauty, too.

    May our Loving Creator continue to bless you and your work.

    • Amy Miranda Amy Miranda on September 15, 2023 at 11:54 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Kitty. Please do share.

  2. Avatar Connie SP on September 17, 2023 at 10:15 pm

    You described so well the Wonderful process of forgiveness that so tightly begins with self-forgiveness which is always God’s work in us. Thanks for the reminder and for the gift if this sacred reflection.

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