One of life’s hard but necessary lessons is to learn to be people in whom forgiveness resides...to be able to forgive others for what they have done to us…to ask forgiveness of those whom we have injured… and to forgive ourselves for what we have done to others. If we don’t forgive, then we will die inside.
Forgiveness is a relational process. It involves God and us in personal and sacramental ways. We don’t go immediately from whatever generated the need for forgiveness to making forgiveness actual in our life. Maybe we need to walk away from the event, leave it alone for a while. Take a break. We also need to develop a certain patience and refuse to let the thought of whatever it was stay in the forefront of our mind. Other bigger, growthful thoughts can’t occupy our minds if we are so preoccupied with the memory of whatever it was. Only with time (different for each of us), can we decide what we need to do so that the memory of whatever it was does not swallow us up. Lay it to rest. We know that forgiveness is real when it no longer hounds us and we are free to go on.
Jesus taught us the full measure of forgiveness, by his words to his followers to “forgive 70 times 7 time”(that is to say endlessly - Mt 18.22). He told us “if you do not forgive, neither will you Father in heaven forgive you (Mark 11.26) His greatest lesson in forgiveness was the way He died on the cross.” Father, forgive!” He cried out in Luke, his words washing over Jerusalem with love Luke 23.34).
It is So Hard to Love…
To unlock the heart
To release the bottled pain….
So hard to stop running
To embrace the one hated
To love and forgive.
To unclench the fist
To surrender to God.
Jesus is the Lord of Second Chances. When we feel dead inside and wonder if we can ever be resurrected, Jesus, the Holy One, is there offering forgiving love and bidding us to do in like manner.
God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others are inextricably linked. Once we recognize and own that we are forgiven by God, then we are free to treat each other as though we are forgiven. In our world that is so full of dissing, hatred and violence, forgiveness of others and ourselves opens doors and windows. Goodbye, road rage. Goodbye, revenge. The world feels different, tastes different, is different.
-Sister Joan Sobala