CAN WE FORGIVE?

Thursday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time          

            Jesus, in today’s gospel, is giving us the antidote to resentment. What is it? FORGIVENESS. We heard in today’s gospel reading Peter’s question to Jesus: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?” And Peter proposes his own answer: “As many as seven times?” Jesus replies, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Which means without limit.

            Indeed, there is no limit to the depth and breadth of mercy and forgiveness that we must offer our sisters and brothers. For many of us, this sounds good in theory. It is inspiring and encouraging to ponder the depths of forgiveness that we are called to offer another. But when it comes to practice, this may be much harder to embrace.

            This spiritual truth must become far more than a theory or ideal we strive for. It must become a practical reality which we embrace with all our heart, with all our strength. We must daily seek to rid ourselves of any tendency we have, no matter how small, to hold a grudge and remain in anger.   We must seek to free ourselves from every form of bitterness and allow mercy and forgiveness to heal every hurt.

            Forgiveness is the catalyst that frees us from the tyranny of hatred from the enslavement to grudges and resentments, from the dark power of revenge and retaliation. To attain any real freedom, we must learn to forgive. When you forgive someone, you free yourself from an oppressive load of negativity. Forgiveness allows you to create peace in your life.

            Jean Maalouf, in his book The Healing Power of Forgiveness, says, “Forgiveness helps us undo our knots and unlock the deadbolts of our hearts.” “By requiring us to let go of the past, forgiveness helps us correct our misperceptions or distorted realities.” “We cannot see what really is and live in the present moment if the past runs our life, if the past keeps haunting us.” “We can certainly learn from the past.” “However, the past should never be allowed to direct our present and our future.”

            We need to remind ourselves constantly that the only sane reality that exists is love and forgiveness is the means that corrects the distortions that do not mirror this love. Forgiving love or loving forgiveness is the medicine that heals the wounds not healed by time.

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