“Forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone in debt to us.” (Lk. 11:4)
Difficulty to Forgive
I don’t know about you, but there have been moments in my life when forgiveness has been very difficult to live. I’ve come to accept about myself that I can forgive, but I may not always forget. My work is to channel what is provoked by the memory of these things toward the virtue I want. When I see the difficulties of being forgiving come up in my heart, I am helped by thinking of others whose example of forgiveness is admirable to me.
Corrie Ten Boom, a woman from Holland who lived through a concentration camp during World War II and then started homes for those who needed to recover after the war; those who had been imprisoned and those who had betrayed their fellow countrymen, is one such example. One day she encountered one of the soldiers who had been a guard in the camp she had lived in. He attended a church conference she was speaking at in Germany and went to greet her and shake hands afterward. It took a tremendous amount of virtue and love for the Lord to even reach out her hand, but once their hands were clasped , “into my heart sprang a love … that almost overwhelmed me…and so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” (The Hiding Place, p. 215)
The Mercy of Forgiveness
Forgiveness comes from a merciful heart. We can forgive because we have been forgiven, “yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Treating others with the same mercy and forgiveness is a high demand, yet this is what we are called to as Christians, as Catholics.
If you cannot forgive, ask for the grace to be able to. Ask without ceasing. “Ask and you will receive…” Lk 11:9
The Virtue of Forgiveness
We can easily fall into sophisms such as, “I can’t go to this or that place because that person is there,” or “I won’t be with those people because… “ You are living without freedom. Be free. Let your forgiveness be a testimony. Let your light shine through your forgiveness. Is it painful and uncomfortable? Does it make you embarrassed, awkward, mad? That is a good thing. You are real.
Now, respond to this reality with the real grace you have been given. Acting on grace is sometimes an experience of certainty and clarity, but at other times it is an experience of stepping out in faith onto a path you cannot see that crosses a deep ravine. You will not see the path until you take the first step, and even then, you may only see the next foothold in front of you. Be courageous and go forward! God is with you. Live for heaven!