If you forgive…

Gladys Staines, the widow of Australian missionary Graham Staines, found it in her heart to forgive Dara Singh and the mob that set fire to the jeep where her husband and sons, Philip (10) and Timothy (6), were asleep in a remote village in Odisha, India. Graham had spent 30 years serving impoverished tribals and leprosy patients.

11-year-old Italian virgin, St. Maria Goretti, forgave 20-year-old Alessandro Serenelli, the neighbor who tried to molest her and stabbed her 14 times when she refused him. Hospitalized, she succumbed to her injuries, but years later Alessandro converted and lived a holy life.

How To..

In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs His apostles on how to pray to God as Father but also on the need to forgive. The punchline jolts us beyond the comforting words of the Our Father: If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

As believers in Jesus, we would do well to remember that forgiving others their offences against us is not optional for a Christian. But human wounds run deep. Rejection, neglect, harsh words, abandonment can hurt unimaginably. Forgiving and forgetting, especially those closest to us, are the hardest acts we are called to as Christians.


So, how does an ordinary Christian forgive from the heart? Here are some insights from scripture and the lives of saints:

1) Feel free to acknowledge the pain, anger, or grief you’ve experienced (Matt 18:21)

2) Offer your emotional wounds and angry thoughts to the Divine Physician Jesus, just as you would bring a serious physical injury to a doctor for treatment and follow-up visits. Pour your cares into the chalice at Mass. Jesus heals. Use your imagination and your words to wash painful wounds and memories in the precious blood of Jesus. (1 Pet 2:24)

3) Recognize that our enemies often do not know what they are doing and are spiritually blinded, despite being in full control of their human faculties. We all have areas of spiritual blindness and hurt each other, intentionally or unintentionally. Accepting the spiritual blindness that has crippled another soul causing them to act unjustly, is an act of great mercy. (Lk 23:24, Acts 7:60)

4) Go seek reconciliation with your brother if you think he has something against you. Hurt people hurt people. Humble willingness to acknowledge your own wrong words, actions and attitudes helps to heal rifts. (Matt 5:23, 24)

5) Intercede for blessings on your enemies. (Matt 5:44)

6) Vow to bless those who have hurt you with acts of kindness and generosity (Rom 12:14, 20)

7) Enumerate with thanksgiving the virtues, strengths, and ways that the person has blessed you in the past (Phil 4:8)

Forgiveness is a means to guarantee that our own sins will be forgiven when confessed (with a repentant heart, of course). And it is also the prerequisite to having our prayers heard, petitions granted, and temporal and spiritual needs met. This Lent let us, then, endeavor to restore damaged relationships.

[Readings: Is 55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15]

Cheryl J

Cheryl J. grew up a cradle Catholic, had a powerful personal encounter with Christ, and a conversion at the age of 17. Two decades later, she had a deeper re-conversion—or perhaps she calls it a reversion—to the teachings of the Catholic Church. She immigrated to Canada as a young adult and lives in Ontario with her three children.


  1. Marion on February 24, 2024 at 3:54 pm

    Very inspiring and edifying message, Cheryl. Forgiveness is the best way to start healing. Very welcoming for the Lenten Season.

  2. Melrose McGill on February 24, 2024 at 10:35 am

    Beautiful thanks Cheryl, great insights.

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