26 March 2019:Virtues are habits, effortless and joyful

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Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Daniel 3:25,34-43; Matthew 18:21-35

Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy times seven.

Once or twice it is fine. But, to keep on forgiving an offensive fellow would be foolish, and not even good for the offender! This is common sense. Unfortunately, the Gospel often goes far beyond common sense! Not seven, but seventy times seven! Seven is a perfect number in the Bible, signifying fullness. Seventy time seven would simply means ‘always’!

Virtue is a habit, so is also vice! A single good act is an act of virtue, but it does not make one a virtuous person. In the same way when one commits sin, it is an act of sin. He does not have the vice of sinfulness. Instead, when someone habitually acts out of goodness, he is a virtuous person. When someone habitually sins, he is a sinner.

When you begin to learn cycling, you struggle. You are not yet a cyclist. But when you can ride a bike effortlessly, without even thinking about it, then you are a cyclist and you enjoy it. When you type a few words on a computer, searching for the letters on the keyboard, you are not yet a typist. When you can do it effortlessly, almost automatically, you become a typist! Similarly, you become a virtuous man, when you effortlessly do virtuous acts, as if by second nature, without even thinking about it. And it does not diminish the merit of your virtue, rather it increases it, like the merit of a racing cyclist. It also increases the enjoyment of the virtue.

Forgiveness, according to Jesus, should be a habit, a virtue, hence something that is joyfully and effortlessly done. One way of doing it is by not even easily get offended, when a brother commits some offence. Then whether it is seven times, seventy or seventy times seven, it would not matter! How many times a mother forgive a child? There is no count, because it is a habit. God forgives us the same way. That is the way Jesus asks us to forgive others.

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