Thus, it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed…Luke 24:46b-47a
Most of us have heard stories of individuals and communities who have forgiven great atrocities. We have our own stories too and my guess is that each of us has forgiven our fair share of faults.
As always in these matters, Jesus is our role model. He was betrayed by his closest friends; mocked, beaten and spat upon by his enemies; his hands and feet nailed to a cross and a crown of thorns placed upon his head. Yet, in his final moments, Jesus cried, "Father, forgive them.”
I love the image of Jesus sitting on the right hand of God, leaning over and forever whispering, “Father, forgive them. Forgive her. Forgive Cathy, for she does not know (the impact) of what she is doing…” Jesus calls us to also forgive one another even as we are being forgiven.
A few days ago, I ran across a reflection I wrote back in April 2001. Though I had not read it in a while, it reminded me of that particular time in my life and how far I have come. I hope it will inspire you as well:
Why I Should Forgive
Holding on to past wounds and hurts
carrying grudges and not resolving issues is costly -very costly.
It costs me present joy, peace, and sometimes my sanity.
It renders me immobile, paralyzed; unable to think and act clearly.
Who or what is worthy of that?
Often the offender has gone on, merrily living his or her life;
oblivious or unconcerned that the infraction ever occurred
while I spend hours, days, weeks mourning and grieving my wounded self.
How much of me shall I give to any one thing? What does that suggest about my faith?
More and more, I desire the full grace of forgiveness;
the ability to receive it but also to practice it unconditionally.
Whether the offense was intentional or accidental;
an act of carelessness or indifference doesn’t really matter.
Today, I choose to start fresh;
certain that this day will have its own measure
of things to learn, experience, enjoy AND forgive.
It’s something I want to do.
Forgiveness sets me free and gives me back my life.
Prayer: Holy Father, help me to proclaim the good news of your forgiveness in word and deed. Amen.
The Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard