Once two brothers, who lived in large acreage farms, had a falling out. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods as needed without any problems. Then the long enjoyed harmony fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. One morning there was a knock on elder brother’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s tool box. “I’m looking for a few days’ work” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?” “Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you.” “Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbour; in fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a field between us and he took his bulldozer to the river level and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better. I want you to build me a fence so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.” The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.” The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The older brother’s eyes opened wide. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge, a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all and the neighbour, his younger brother was coming toward them, his hand outstretched. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done. ”The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter and said stay a few days I have a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother. “I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, but I have many more bridges to build.
Forgiving in the full Christian sense is a form of loving and caring. Today we are told to forgive others and our forgiveness should not be just once or twice, but seventy times seven. This means that it is an ongoing decision day after day, week after week, year after year, without counting the cost. When we do not forgive someone, it is because we are passing judgment on that person. Jesus commanded us not to judge others so that we will not be judged. Let us remember St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer: “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Our failure to offer pardon means that we have forgotten God’s goodness or have not fully appreciated the unconditional forgiveness we have received from Him.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.