January 2, 2018 – “…My Son said to you to forgive and to love each other. I know that this is not always easy. Suffering makes you grow in spirit. For you to spiritually grow all the more, you must sincerely and truly forgive and love…”
Forgiveness plays no small role in the Christian life. We suffer when others offend and wrong us, and when we offend the Lord by sinning, but we also suffer much when we fail to forgive others or ourselves out of pride and bitterness.
How many relationships are torn apart due to unforgiveness? How many wars are created in families where there’s no forgiveness or understanding? How many disorders are brought about in people when they don’t forgive themselves or others?
In the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father), we pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This is so important because we’re asking God to judge and forgive us as we do to others. So, if we forgive little and condemn much, what is it can we expect from the Lord for ourselves? It’s a daunting and sobering thought. But it’s why Our Lady is calling us to love and forgive each other as Jesus taught us.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accountswith his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” [Matthew 18:21-35]
Forgiveness brings healing. Ever noticed at times in the Gospel when Jesus would heal people He’d also forgive them of their sins? Here’s one example:
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” [Luke 5:17-26]
Jesus—God Himself—forgives, and He intercedes before the Father for all of us, as well as His persecutors:
Jesus said, “Father,forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34]
So, in the same way we, too, must forgive.
This isn’t always easy for us, as Our Lady points out. She is honest with us, and knows how difficult forgiveness can be for us at times. We wrestle with our pride because when we forgive it tends to inflict violence against our self-will. But then we are humbled, and the healing from God comes and settles within us. There is peace again. We then can start over again. A clean slate. A new opportunity. Just like when we go to confession.
When forgiving someone feels difficult, pray. Pray for the strength to forgive and love that person; to move on and not hold on to any grudges or bad memories. The Lord will help you, and so will the Blessed Mother. Ask them to help you to see a brother or sister in that person who mistreated you. I know, it sounds impossible… at least for us… but for God all things are possible. He can transform hearts! And if that person is not repentant towards you, and doesn’t want to be forgiven, pray and forgive anyway. God will see it in your heart, and bless you for it. He will help you to heal.
Here’s a beautiful prayer for inner healing where we ask the Lord to help us to truly forgive others, and to heal us from our wounds.
Prayer for Inner Healing
Lord Jesus, You came to heal our wounded and troubled hearts. I beg You to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart; I beg You, in a particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg You to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused through my life.
Lord Jesus, You know my burdens. I lay them all on Your Good Shepherd’s Heart. I beseech You – by the merits of the great, open wound in Your heart-to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.
Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You Who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart.
Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer You my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of Your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.
Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones, which is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that You are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to Your Resurrection, Your victory over sin and death, Your living presence among us. Amen.