How easy is it to forgive? Not just to say I forgive you, but to truly forgive. For some things it is easy. Sorry, I opened the door and bumped into you, “I forgive you”. Sorry, I forgot to take the trash out, “I forgive you”. Yet, what about the more serious things. Sorry, I stole your girlfriend. Sorry, I hit your car. Sorry, I yelled at you. Or what about those things that are done and there is never an apology? We can even have trouble forgiving those that did not harm directly to us or the ones we loved. I hear a lot from faithful, that child molester, I hope they rot in hell for all eternity. I have heard people say, we need to castrate that rapist. On the other hand I witnessed a family, whose son was kidnapped, his credit cards stolen, then he was sexually molested and shot execution style, who had the strength to seek justice all while forgiving the perpetrators. They fought against the death penalty as too much for the attackers. They publicly and privately forgave. This could not have been easy.
In my own life there are times I really struggle to forgive, and I have never been through what this family went through. I look at the news, and there are so many evils that seem to be happening. It is easy to hate, to enter into a state of non forgiveness. Yet, each day I pray the Lord’s Prayer, and in it, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do I want my forgiveness determined by the way I forgive others? Sure we may say, well I just don’t forgive the big things, and I don’t sin in those big ways. This is like the argument that hell is only for those who do the “big things” like murder and rape. Yet, are we not determining what is bad enough and what is not. Do we want to be forgiven based on someone else determining what is “bad enough”? Not only that, but, do we not realize that “much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Luke 12:48)? We have been entrusted with much more. As Catholics we have the very life of God within us, through His grace. We live as a new creation through our baptism. So much is given to us through the grace we receive and live.
So here we are, entrusted with so much! We are called to live this mystery, that “while still sinners Christ came and died for us” (Rom 5:8). To live this mystery we must be willing to forgive. Again, this does not mean that we do not seek justice, but in forgiving we can seek true justice and not revenge. It is never easy, but it is true and good. If we can not forgive from the little things to the big, we can not grow in the grace of Christ. We truly stunt the growth of the life of God within us when we harbor ill will. Yet, living the mysteries of the faith will assist us in reaching and attaining this forgiveness. To examine ourselves daily, we will realize where we all fall short, as we do this day after day, we will grow closer to the Lord. We will determine those areas we fall short and work to overcome them. Then we seek the sacraments of reconciliation. As we receive from the Lord the forgiveness that He offers, while we realize how unworthy we are to receive it, the forgiveness of others that are unworthy of it will become easier.
Forgiveness is a central need in our lives. Christ spoke of it often. I truly believe that the lack of forgiveness is one of the central reasons people are stunted in their growth of faith, and I believe the lack of forgiveness is one of the central reason we have trouble evangelizing and bringing others into the faith. Go to confession frequently, examine your daily lives, live the mystery of forgiveness in all you do.
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- September 26, 2012 / 1:16 pm