The Challenging Demand of Forgiveness

Today’s Gospel deals with another one of the most challenging demands of discipleship, that being forgiveness. None of us gets through life without being hurt by others. How do we deal with these hurts? They can provide us with an opportunity to grow, or they can become a stumbling block to human and spiritual development.

Hurts are not always easy to deal with. Once we are hurt by another person the door to self-pity is opened and this can lead to bitterness, resentment, and anger. The hurt can poison our spirit, and hinders our capacity to love. It is unfortunate that some individuals have years of stored up hurts inside them which prevents them from enjoying the gift of life.

From time to time we need to clear our minds of retained hurts, dusting the cobwebs of self-pity, cutting out the growth of bitterness. Hurt feelings need to be brought to the surface, owned and then let go.

This is where forgiveness enters the picture. Never easy but it makes great sense. Through forgiveness we rid ourselves of the burden of bitterness and resentment. When done this results in a renewed sense of freedom and relief. Once again we are able to devote our energies to loving, which is the only activity that befits a Christian. Forgiveness is first and foremost a healing of our own hearts.

Forgiveness also works wonders for the person who is forgiven. They are set free to walk in friendship with God and with the person they have offended.

Forgiveness implies an understanding of our own poverty, brokenness, and sin, and therefore our need of forgiveness. This helps us to forgive with understanding and humility. It is not enough to forgive in word, we must forgive as Jesus says, from the heart. That means truly letting go and moving forward.

God is always ready and willing to forgive. The only obstacle we can put in the way of God’s forgiveness is our being unwilling to forgive others. Recall the words we pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” Powerful words indeed as we are the ones attaching the condition to being forgiven or not.

Once again, if you find it difficult to forgive, look to the Crucified One and hear the excuse he gave to his Father so as to forgive his executioners, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

  - Father Dennis, Septemeber 13, 2020