February 20, 2021
Forgiving can be very hard, but also very powerful for our own liberation. Here is an exercise to help.
- Forgiveness is one of the most effective things we can do for our own transformation of our own life and for God’s triumph over Satan and increase God’s reign.
- When we forgive, that doesn’t mean that the person does not have to answer to the justice of God. We leave justice in the hands of God who is the just judge.
- Jesus says to ‘bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you”. We should pray for our enemies and their conversion.
- We should want to choose to forgive and try to forgive.
- We are praying with the whole Church when we pray to forgive us our trespasses. That includes our Blessed Mother and the saints.
- It is in Jesus crucified whom we find the graces to forgive.
By forgiving, it is the most effective thing we can do, to destroy the power of satan and increase God’s reign. We can only be forgiven if we forgive. God is just, but it’s not our role to create that justice, but to forgive.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging, and you will not be judged, stop condemning, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” So, this is a very challenging gospel. Jesus says, “forgive.” And sometimes we’re tempted to want to hang on to our hurts, and our anger, almost like a treasure that we take care of, protecting and nurture even focusing on, on the things that have hurt us. And so, this is a very challenging gospel. But it’s also a very practical gospel. We could say that Jesus has given us, in a very concise, clear form, some of the most effective things we can do for our own transformation, and for the transformation of our world. So, it’s very powerful. Powerful, first of all, for our own forgiveness, for ourselves being forgiven. You know, the gospel gives the example, it would be similar to say, someone that you owed $500,000 to, and you didn’t know how you’re going to pay that 500,000 back. And so, they said, “look, I’ll forgive you that 500,000, and the only condition is that you forgive the $50 that somebody owes you.” That’d be a pretty good deal, right? I mean, not many banks would make that offer I don’t imagine. But I mean, that wouldn’t that be extraordinary, if someone said to you, “I’ll forgive you all that 500,000. And the only condition is not something you have to give me, but to forgive the person who owes you 50 bucks. And so, this is very powerful. If we forgive that 50 bucks, then the Lord will forgive us, our own sins, our own debts. And this is one of the most effective things we could do for our own liberation and healing. Because the ways that people have hurt us, is like a poison, oftentimes causing bitterness and anger in us. And by forgiving, we permit those to begin healing. And so there may still be pain, but there’s not that poison. And so, as I say, these are some of the most effective things we can do for our own transformation of our own life, and for God’s triumph over satan. Because there is someone it’s good to hate, and that’s satan, he’s the one behind all this, all the evil. And so, by forgiving it is one of the most effective things we can do, to destroy the power of satan and increase God’s reign. And so today, during this Mass, we’re going to have an opportunity to take a step in this direction, to take a step to put into practice these powerful acts of healing and transformation. But I want to, first of all, clarify a few points. We could say, “what about justice?” Does that mean that a person that does evil, they just get to go off scot free? And as scripture says, it says, “The Lord says, justice is mine.” So, justice belongs to Him, He is the one who knows the truth. And He is the one who will act, who will judge justly. So, when we forgive, that doesn’t mean that the person does not have to answer to the justice of God, that’s between them and the Lord, but the Lord is merciful. But He is also just, so we leave justice in the hands of Him, who is just, the just judge. And also, Jesus is not talking about our feelings, but about our actions, about our decisions, about our will. The Catechism says, “it is not in our power, not to feel or to forget an offense.” It is not in our power, not to feel or to forget an offense. So, we can’t just say, “well, I’m not going to feel that pain that someone caused me or I’m not going to remember anymore that pain that they caused me.” We might try to do that. But that’s not completely under our control. So, we’re not talking here, about feelings. But as we’ve often spoken of, this Christian love that Jesus is talking about is the decision to will the good of the other person. And so that’s why Jesus doesn’t command us to like our enemies. He doesn’t command us to feel good about those who have hurt us. What does He say? He says, not like, but “love your enemies.” And so that’s again, that’s not a feeling. But that’s a decision to will, their good. And to make that clear, the other things He says are actions, they’re not feelings. He says, “Do good to those who hate you.” He doesn’t say feel good. He says, do good. He says, “Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.” So, one good thing we can do is to pray for them, pray for their conversion. The Roman catechism also addresses two other points, because it’s common, in our passage, in the Our Father, which is similar to this where Jesus tells us in the prayer today, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Catechism says, “Some people despair, of being able to do this, precisely because they can’t get rid of all the memories, or the lingering grudges.” And so, one of the points of the Catechism mentioned, is a difference, that there is this battle going on inside of us, between what St. Paul calls the spirit of the Holy Spirit, and our flesh, that is our human sinful tendencies. And so that battle is going on inside of us all the time, while we’re on this earth. And we can’t just get rid of that, that flesh in us, which is the flesh, which is angry and vengeful, and so forth. So, we can’t get rid of all that. But the important thing is that our spirit, that we persevere, we choose and continue in our spirit to try to want to forgive and to try to forgive. So, we should want to choose to forgive and try to forgive, even if we’re still struggling with parts in us which are opposed to that. And another point it makes, is that some people are hesitant to pray this prayer, because they feel they haven’t yet succeeded in fully forgiving their enemies. And it says, “even if we haven’t yet fully succeeded in this, we can pray this prayer, forgive us our trespasses.” Because it makes the point, it says,” because we say forgive us our trespasses, that is who is the our, who is the our that we’re talking about? Who is this we? It’s the whole Church. And so, we’re praying with the whole Church. And so that includes our Blessed Mother and the saints. And so, it’s we, as a whole church are also counting on their help in this act of forgiving. And it says also that they who have forgiven those who hurt them. The other point it makes is that when we pray this prayer, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” we’re praying also for all that we need to cooperate. So, we’re basically saying, Lord, I want to do this, but help me, help me do all that I need to do. So even if we feel that we’re not there yet, we can still pray that prayer. And so, in just a moment, we’re going to do a little have an opportunity to do this exercise of forgiveness. And so, you may think that there’s no one that you need to forgive, that’s great. That’s great if you have no one to forgive, but sometimes there’s people that we’ve forgotten, and yet we still haven’t forgiven them. And so, this little exercise I’m going to do, it’s a little help, but you can adapt it for your own circumstances. But the two points I would make before we begin this is one, when we’re struggling for forgiveness, we can do this right now during the Mass. It’s the come to Jesus crucified, come in spirit, and that’s why we have the crucifix in front of us. Because it’s an opportunity to come in spirit to Jesus crucified. And we know that His words, the first words on the cross are “Father, forgive them.” And so, He is the one in whom we find the grace to forgive. So not just staying in our own thoughts, but coming to Jesus crucified. And when we feel unable to do this, we can say, “Lord, I’m trying to, but I can’t do it by myself. So, I’m asking you, by your Holy Spirit, to forgive in me” So you’re freely choosing, but you’re freely surrendering in a sense yourself to the Holy Spirit, saying I can’t do it, but I’m entrusting this to you. So now, I’ll pray with you this little act of forgiveness. And if you want to, you can close your eyes, it’s kind of a going through all the different persons that we might want to forgive. “Lord, I ask now, for the grace to be able to forgive. And first of all, to want to forgive. I make this prayer, counting on Your help. I want to forgive my mother and my father, for the times that they hurt me, were angry with me, punished me excessively, or didn’t discipline me when I needed it. For the times they preferred my brothers or sisters, or put me down, or made me seem a burden or unwanted or disappointment. I forgive them for any lack of help, or of love, of affection, of attention, of being there when I needed them. I forgive them for their arguments, fights, for drinking, for causing a divorce, for leaving and making me feel abandoned. I want to forgive my brothers and sisters, for getting angry with me, hurting me, lying about me, rejecting me, competing for the love of our parents, or making my life difficult. I want to pardon my grandparents, aunts, and uncles and any relative who has interfered in our family, caused confusions, or put division in our family. I forgive any who have been selfish, and unjust, in questions of money, property and inheritance. I want to forgive all the teachers and coaches who have insulted me, humiliated me in front of others, or didn’t understand my difficulties and were too harsh. I forgive my schoolmates and companions as I was growing up, those who spoke badly of me or made fun of me, those who rejected me or hurt me in some way. I forgive anyone who abused me, in one way or another when I was young. I forgive all my friends, and anyone I have been in a relationship with, who were not available when I needed them, who let me down, betrayed my trust, and took advantage of me or turned against me and rejected me. I forgive all the priests, nuns, deacons, bishops or other members of the Church and its organizations for the lack of help and support, uninspiring homilies, bad examples, hardiness and pride, harshness, hypocrisy, and not appreciating my capacities, or any harm they have caused me or my family.” And now here, you don’t have to worry about uninspiring homilies of course. “Lord, I forgive my spouse for his or her lack of love, attention and formation and communication, for their faults, failures, weaknesses, selfishness, and words or actions that hurt me, for being impossible to live with, or for leaving me. I forgive my children, for their lack of respect, of obedience, of love and affection, of understanding, of gratitude. I forgive them for the pain and disappointment they have caused by the decisions they have made in life. I forgive my mother-in-law, father- in -law, all my in- laws for any damage they have done in my life. I forgive those I work with who are hard to get along with and make work disagreeable or make me do their work or criticize me, do not cooperate, or treat me unjustly. I forgive my bosses for not paying me enough, for not appreciating my work and giving me a promotion, for not being reasonable and understanding, for taking advantage of me. I forgive anyone who has hurt me physically, or in any other way, including politicians, lawyers, law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and business owners. Lord, I especially pray for the grace to forgive the person who has hurt me the most in my life. And I pray for all those that I have hurt in these or other ways, especially those who are closest to me. Lord have mercy.” So that’s a lot, a lot that we went through in this list. But even if there’s just one person, that you made the act of forgiving in this Mass, coming to Jesus crucified, and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, forgiving a person, you will come out of this Mass freer, and more united to the Lord, and having liberated the world from some poison. And so, with our Blessed Mother, who at the cross, shared with her son, the act of forgiveness for those who were doing so much evil. And again, that doesn’t mean that there’s no justice, God is just, but it’s not our role, to create that justice, but to forgive. And with also so many martyrs, who, throughout the history of the Church, and today are reliving this gospel. So, I’ll just end with reading those words again. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Again, He’s taught us how to make it so that you will not be judged. You will not be condemned, and you will be forgiven. Amen.