Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Thought

“Take heed to yourselves.  If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke him or her; and if he or she repents, forgive them.  And if they sin against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day return to you saying, ‘I repent’, you shall forgive them.”  Luke 17:3-4

Forgiveness is hard.  In fact, to genuinely forgive someone an offense against us is actually painful because it is required the offense to be forgotten – and we don’t forget so easily even as we pay lip service to forgiveness such as those who might say, “I will forgive you – BUT – I will never forget what you did to me.”  That is not genuine forgiveness.  We have not let it go even if we have mouthed the words, “I forgive you”.  Real forgiveness has not taken place.  The offender may feel better hearing the words, but the burden still rests on our souls!

Jesus does not merely suggest we “should” forgive the offender who repents; the language is straightforward: “Forgive them”, and “you shall forgive them”.  Coming from the mouth of the Lord, then, it becomes a “commandment”.  It is as absolute as those “Ten”, and there is no wiggle room. 

Forgiving an offender is as much a part of the journey of discipleship as worship, Scripture study, and attending to the Sacraments of the Church.  In fact, the journey stops when we become stuck in the past as when we retain the offense of someone who has harmed us; we are stuck in that moment even though the offender has moved on.  We do not harm those who have offended us by refusing to forgive them and choose instead to hold the grudge; we harm only ourselves.

We must learn to let go of the past.  If there are those who have asked our forgiveness, we must give it to them as readily as we seem to expect our Holy Father to forgive us.  That burden is more than any can bear, and it only gets heavier and more cumbersome as time wears on.  Jesus offers us better than this, but we must be willing to accept it.


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