CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHING: FORGIVE OTHERS THAT YOU MAY BE FORGIVEN

SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY FORGIVE ALL INJURIES

“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!”

Do I forgive injuries, real or perceived???  Have I forgiven those who have hurt or offended me or one of my loved ones?  Or do I hold on to old hatreds and grudges?

Our Lord Jesus taught us to pray “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  So what we are saying, in effect, is “if I don’t forgive others, Lord, then don’t forgive me.”  That seems like a risk better not taken! 

Forgiveness is not the same as “forgetting that it ever happened”!  In reality, there are some things that we cannot forget,  just because the experience has embedded itself in our memory — but we can choose to forgive… to surrender that hurt, that painful memory over to Our Lord Jesus, to ask Him to help us to let go of that hurt and not to let it have power over us anymore.

Forgiveness is a gift from God not our own will power but a gift we should seek and embrace. When we forgive, we put the past behind us so that we can be truly present in the here and now instead of controlled by hurts of the past. But what if we continue to have negative feelings toward the person who hurt us?  It doesn’t matter!  Feelings are just that!,… feelings and nothing more…

Negative feelings are not sinful, unless we deliberately foster them and choose to feed them.  When our negative feelings emerge, and we pray for the person who hurt us, then our feelings will eventually begin to change and to heal. Forgiveness is an act of the will!

Forgiveness is often misunderstood.   Some may believe it diminishes the offense against them.  It does not!  Others may think it requires that you stay or resume a poisonous dysfunctional relationship.  It does not!  Still others may think it is a work they have to do all on their own.  IT IS NOT! Forgiveness is a work of God within us, whereby He acts to free us from the poisonous effects of bitterness and grief that often accompany the harm that was inflicted upon us.  Clinging to our hurt and anger, understandable though it may be, only harms us.  In calling us to forgive, God is offering us the gift to be free of a costly emotional state that robs us of our joy and strength.

Sometimes relationships are poisonous for both parties involved. Sometimes, because the other person has not or cannot repent (perhaps because of addictions or deep-seated drives), it is too dangerous to be close to him or her. Thus Scripture says, If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. “Never take your own revenge, beloved, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:18).

How is the forgiving of injuries a spiritual work of mercy? First of all, forgiving ourselves and others is a gift of mercy to us. Anger, hurt, and nursing grudges all sap us of strength. The gift of forgiveness relieves us of these burdens.  Our strength and energy can be directed to other, better things. We even sleep better!

Forgiving injuries is also a work of mercy to the one who has harmed us; it can restore to them a relationship with us that is important to them. It is a very great gift to offer mercy and pardon to one who has harmed us and seeks our forgiveness.  May we truly forgive our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, anyone who has ever hurt us, so that we will be fully open to receiving the forgiveness, Mercy and healing that Our Lord Jesus Christ wishes to pour out on us!

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LET US FORGIVE AS THE FATHER FORGIVES US!

REMBRANDT’S PRODIGAL SON

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 

I am no longer worthy to be called your son;  

make me like one of your hired servants.’  

So he got up and went to his father”. Luke 15:17

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