Forgiveness again! Seems like Jesus spoke a lot about forgiveness. Are there not more important topics like abortion, the economy, His Mother? Why did Jesus spend so much time on forgiveness? All we have to do is look around for the answer. The challenge to forgive has not gone out of style.
On the contrary, the need to forgive is now more necessary. Given the ability to communicate instantly, we also have the ability to hurt each other instantly. Things we never thought possible have become reality. Identity theft, computer hacking, phone fraud—are modern ways to steal, to cheat. How many times do we have to forgive? Do we have to forgive people that we’ve never met? The answer lies inside of us. Since none of us are perfect, we also want to be forgiven when we fail. We ask God to forgive us our sins every time that we pray the “Our Father”. Just like we want the Lord to forgive us, we have to let go of the offenses we have received. We step on each other’s toes almost every day, especially in the family. The ones that we love the most are the ones who can hurt us the most. Usually we raise the bar—we raise our expectations of family members. When they do not meet our expectations feelings get hurt. We tend to hold grudges. One negative incident cancels 99 positive actions. Spouses, children, in-laws—they are the ones we have to forgive or ask to be forgiven over and over. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” How many times? Do we not keep track of each other’s transgressions? That’s why we conclude that God must be keeping track of our sins. The guy with the list is the devil—he keeps track so that he can rub our sins in our face.
We get tired, we loose patience, we stop trusting when a person constantly hurts us. Even an animal will stop coming around if all we do is hit it or shout at it every time the animal comes near. Same can be said for a relationship between two people. Sure we hurt one another, but to hurt someone on purpose cannot be the intention. Repeated physical or verbal abuse should not be tolerated. We have to distinguish between forgiving and enabling. If a person has a mental illness or an addiction and refuses help, then tuff love is necessary. Some folks need to be confronted and told that they are loved, they are forgiven, but need to keep their distance.
We should never hold on to pain. Resentments will poison our life. If we are not transformed by pain we will always transmit pain. That’s the reason that we lash out at someone at home when we come in after a difficult day when we have been hurt. The first one that we see becomes the victim of our resentment. The test that we have truly forgiven someone is when the pain no longer dominates our thoughts. The unforgiving servant in the Gospel carried a lot of baggage. He was forgiven but could not forgive others. He did not allow the pain to transform him so he transmitted his resentments. Obviously he was not free. Yesterday and tomorrow do not exists. All we have is today—this moment. If we have hurt someone; if someone has hurt us, time to forgive. Pride will always get in the way. Rise above the pride. With God all things are possible, especially forgiveness. The greater the pain, the greater is the grace God provides. When the hurt is overwhelming we might be tempted to crawl in a whole and feel sorry for ourselves.
Never loose hope. Once we let go of the past, we are free to forgive others. Our sins have been washed away in the Blood of Christ. Time to wake up to freedom.