Dear Believers in the Christ,
Harboring grudges creates sheer poison in our souls. No person can escape being hurt by others and everyone has their place in hurting other people. Grudges can even be passed down from generation to generation. Blaming, hurting, condemning and shunning people can be an entire way of life for many people. We are all in this game of fragile relationships and our need for reconciliation.
When we hold on to a grudge, we tend to keep score in forgiveness. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus invites us to go beyond our stingy ways in which we forgive. He invites us to forgive even beyond seven times. He challenges us to go beyond seven times seven times. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult aspects of our human relationships. It seems that because it is so difficult, it becomes a graced-filled aspect of following Jesus.
To forgive someone becomes a nitty-gritty challenge of everyday life. Forgiveness calls us into a new respect for one another, especially when the conflict is with a spouse. Forgiveness challenges us to create a new image of another person, which is difficult, especially when it is our teenager. Forgiveness breaks down power structures and helps us view people on a level playing field, especially when it is among nations, within the Church or a neighbor next door. Forgiveness really is about a new world order, a place where love, respect and hope can flourish. Forgiveness is finally finding Jesus.
Jesus came among us to model forgiveness. Even at his birth, prophets spoke of the miracle that opposites would be together such as a lion resting with a lamb. In Jesus’ mission, he broke through barriers of illness, disease and political boundaries such as reaching out to the leper, healing him and calling him back to the community. Jesus brings the Kingdom of Heaven to our earthly realities at every Mass within the sharing of his Body and Blood. Forgiveness is the heart of who Jesus is because his mission in so many ways is to bridge the conflict of our earthly life with the hope, love, and peace of the Father’s Kingdom. So when we forgive others, even more than seven times, we light up our world with a heavenly reality of justice, peace and serenity.
Here are some statements to consider as we all reflect on forgiveness: I hold on to my grudges with anger and resentment because…. Finally, I see that my resentments become my food, my way of life and I cannot seem to… Forgiveness is really difficult for me because I know I have to… I ache to let go of the monster grudges I carry since I … Jesus, help me to enter into the mystery of your challenge to forgive so…
Blessings to you as we all learn to forgive,