We took our twenty month old grandson with us to church on Sunday. Its been a long time since we’ve gone to church with a young child in tow. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but figured I probably wouldn’t get much out of the mass as much of my time would be spent keeping him in check. He actually did a pretty good job and except for an occasional bout of talking, he was surprisingly well behaved, nothing at all like his dad who had a very difficult time keeping quiet and sitting still. My grandson’s behavior genes must have been passed down from his mother’s side of the family!
I’m really glad he was well behaved. It gave me the opportunity to enjoy Father Cronin’s thought-provoking homily on forgiveness. As he said, the act of forgiveness is perhaps one of the most difficult things that we can do. It does not come naturally to us and goes against our natural instinct to protect ourselves from injury. When someone’s actions or words hurt us and cause emotional distress we usually shrink back and lick our wounds, trying to understand how they could do such a thing. We often find ourselves getting angry at the person and seek payback and harbor animosity towards them. Sometimes we continue interacting with the person carrying on as if nothing has happened, seething all the while.
Much of the problem lies with us and our fragile self-esteem. We are constantly seeking the approval of others, we want their acceptance not rejection. These perceived attacks hurt and bother us because we forget who we really are. We are children of God, Christians. Our true worth comes from our relationship with Him, it is His approval that matters not your boss, spouse or friends. When we forget this fact, which we often do, we set ourselves up to be hurt. Ironically, we are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we hurt and cannot find it in our hearts we develop an open wound in our souls that grows and festers into pain, bitterness, and resentment. We become prisoners. Only through forgiveness can we be healed and set ourselves free.
Learning how to forgive isn’t easy and is often a very slow process. When we have been hurt, we naturally want to hurt back and make the other person pay for the pain they’ve caused. But this is completely contrary to what God wants from us.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:”It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
So if we are not suppose to take revenge, then we must forgive. It’s God’s will. But when we’ve been hurt unjustly, forgiving is easier said then done. For our own good, and the good of those who hurt us, we simply must forgive. If we trust in God for our salvation, then we must also trust him to make things right when we forgive. He will heal our wound so we can move on.
The human condition is quite fragile, we all have our failings. Jesus understood this weakness. Again and again He forgave the people he met, tax collectors, prostitutes, even those who put Him to death. We should learn to forgive because God has forgiven us. We have to learn to depend on God instead of ourselves and allow Him to help us with our burdens. Trusting in God is the only way we can truly forgive.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…..” Mark 6:12