Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 19th 2014 Contents B9
October 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
One of the biggest threats facing our soci-
ety today is our people s inability to forgive.
There is so much tit for tat, even in the
Catholic community, that it makes revenge,
in all its forms, seem always the way to go.
Famous American author and Zen teacher
Charlotte Joko Beck wrote, "Our failure to
know joy is a direct reflection of our inability
to forgive." Then she added, "Non-forgiveness
is rooted in our habit of thinking self-centred
thoughts." Rev Deacon Derek Walcott made
reference to this quote in a blog early last
week. He reiterated Beck when he wrote,
"When we cannot think beyond ourselves,
we cannot forgive."
Should you step back a bit and look at the bigger societal picture, you will conclude that the lack
of forgiveness plays a large part in the current parlous
state of our country and the quicker efforts are made
to turn this situation around, the benefits of a better
society will emerge.
Giving his thoughts a Gospel reading (Luke 11:37-
41), Walcott talked about the number of times people
tell him, "I am spiritual, but I don t believe I should
follow some religion and their laws." And he adds, "It
is in the Sunday mass that we receive the many graces
necessary toward our being that good person. "
He wrote the command-
ment to keep the Sabbath
holy, as with any of the
other nine commandments
and customs of the church,
it is there to lead us to God.
He added, "These free us
from our often confused,
subjective conclusions about
how we should worship God
and live our lives."
In his interpretation of
Luke s Gospel, Deacon Walcott explained that the
Pharisees observed the law literally. They only looked
at the letter and because of this, they were incapable
of perceiving the spirit of the law, the true objective
that observance of the law wanted to attain in the life
of the people.
Today too, in the Catholic church there are enough
laws, customs and regulations to make even a pharisee
proud. "The danger," according to Walcott, "is that
we can fall into one of two traps. Firstly, we can adhere
to them with such vigour that we lose sight of the
one they are freeing us to worship"
The second trap, wrote Walcott, is at the other
extreme, to give ourselves an easy pass by presuming
that "if my heart is in the right place, I don t need
to worry about all these rules as such."
In that same passage from Luke 11, Walcott said
he was called to reflect on the last few lines of the
passage, which he said carried a powerful message
for all of us. St Augustine says, "There are many kinds
of alms.....What our Lord says, "Give alms...and see.
Everything will be clean for you applies to all practical
deeds of mercy. It does not apply just to those who
give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing
to the naked, hospitality to the wayfarer or refuge to
the fugitive....but also to those who forgive the one
who has offended them.
"Forgiveness is a kind of giving. It is a kind of alms-
giving that has come from within. There are many
external imitations that are not the real thing. On the
outside they may look quite like it, but they are best
recognised from the inside. They do not set you free.
Consequently, neither do they set the other person
free. Your heart is still heavy," added Walcott.
Archbishop Harris has said it many times in the
recent past when he has called on the faithful to
become more forgiving thus adhering to the call to
"love your neighbour as yourself." Maybe some intro-
spection could pave the way for revolutionising the
way in which we live today. We can give it a shot!
• Vernon Khelawan is media relations officer of
Catholic Media Services Ltd (Camsel), the official
communications arm of the Archdiocese of Port-
of-Spain. Its offices are located at 31 Independence
Square. Telephone: 623-7620.
...forgiveness a kind of alms-giving
Love your neighbour as yourself
"These free us
from our often
how we should
worship God and
live our lives."
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