Grace to Forgive
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Forgiveness — that is the theme of the scripture readings from Mass this weekend. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer we ask God to forgive us and we also acknowledge that we have the capacity and the duty to forgive those who sin against us. Adam was forgiven; St. Peter, who three times denied knowing Jesus, was also forgiven. Had Judas repented, we can presume he too would have been forgiven. If God can forgive us when we repent of our sin, we too must be eager to forgive those who sin against us when they genuinely seek forgiveness.
The first reading from the Book of Sirach says:
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
When Peter asked Jesus how many times he must forgive the sins of a brother, Jesus said, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” In other words, there are no limits to our requirement to forgive when there is true repentance.
When we have been deeply hurt by the sins of another, it can be very difficult to forgive. We struggle with the emotional scar that the sin created in us. So, we must ask God to give us the grace to forgive. My failure to forgive will always be more harmful to me than to the person who sinned against me.
When I stand before God at the end of my life and beseech His mercy, God might well ask me how I did at offering forgiveness to those who sinned against me. What will my answer be? What will your answer be?
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,