CAN WE FORGIVE?

Thursday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time

            The Lord exhorts us to forgive “seventy-seven times” – meaning, without limits – and we must “forgive from the heart.”

            Question: Can we forgive those whom we love and those who love us? Can we forgive them for not loving us as much as we wanted to be loved? Can we forgive our fathers for being authoritarian, indifferent, unaffectionate, uncaring, absent or simply more interested in other people or things than us? Can we forgive our mothers for being possessive, controlling, dominating, preoccupied, overly busy or simply more concerned with a career than with us? Can we forgive our brothers and sisters for not playing with us, for not sharing their friends with us, for talking down to us, or for making us feel stupid? Can we forgive our children for taking us for granted, for being ungrateful, disobedient, disrespectful, or for being always with their barkadas? Can we forgive our friends for betraying us, hurting us, forgetting us or for not being there for us when we needed them most?

            There is much to forgive, not just because our family was not as caring as other families, our friends are not as dependable as other people, but because all the love we received was imperfect and very limited. Our parents also are children of parents who did not love them in a perfect way. Same with our friends, lovers, teachers, pastors and other significant people in our lives.

            Indeed, there is so much to forgive; but if we are willing to see our own parents as people like ourselves with a desire to love but also with many unfulfilled needs, we might be able to step over our anger, resentment, bitterness, or even hatred. We might be able to discover that their limited love is still real love – a love for which to be grateful.

            Henri Nouwen says, “Once we are able to forgive, we can be grateful for what we have received.” Indeed, we have received so much: we can walk, talk, smile, move, laugh, cry, eat, drink, dance, play, work, sing, give life, give joy, give hope, give love. We are alive! Our parents gave us life. Our brothers and sisters, friends and other significant people helped us to live it. Once we are no longer blinded by their so-obvious weaknesses, we can see clearly how much there is to be grateful for.

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