When the subject of forgiving comes up in conversation or at a homily in church, as it did today, it conjures up in me the struggle to forgive. Today’s homily was from Matthew 18:21-35. Peter asks Jesus how many times must he forgive when someone sins against him. Peter says, “seven times”? Jesus replies “not seven times but seventy-seven times” Jesus is saying to Peter that we need to forgive always in order to have forgiveness given to us from God.
Ok, I get that but what happens when you forgive someone over and over again? Are we supposed to keep on forgiving and letting the person continually sin against us? This is my struggle.
I am overly forgiving (kindness and forgiving are my achilles heals) but there are some people in my life who continually take advantage of me. It isn’t always easy to avoid those people in your life who think nothing of crossing the line into misconduct. My life rules are pretty easy, follow the ten commandments. Seriously are the commandments that hard to follow?
Forgiveness can happen instantly or sometimes it is a process that can take years. During the time when we haven’t forgiven are we then not forgiven by God? I grappled with this all day and decided to pose the question to my Thursday Ladies Group and was so overwhelmed by their responses I must share in case you too struggle with complete forgiveness.
One of my ladies wrote about her priests homily in Manila today, “Forgiveness and justice are separate but related. You can forgive someone for the wrong things he/she has done but he/she still has to face the consequences for the action he/she has done. We are only humans and it’s natural that it takes time to forgive but the thought that you are trying to forgive someone is a good starting point”
She then added her simple theory saying, “I might as well start forgiving others because God is so loving and forgives me in all my sins. That’s the least I can do to others.”
And finally she sent some insight from Anawim Way, http://www.anawim2.com/anawim-way/ related to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit2.php “Begin with the end in mind” which is Covey’s advice intended for application in business or personal tasks but it is a good principle for all of us. If we begin with the end, heaven, we begin to see everything else in the right perspective.
Another friend said “Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past. It’s accepting what has happened, what has been, as part of God’s plan. It happened. It’s over. Period. By the way, the most sincere form of apology is changed behavior. “
And another friend relayed Bishop Barron’s explanation in her words “Forgiveness is not the summoning of positive feelings toward the one who has wronged us, nor is it writing off what was done, or justifying it, forgiveness assumes something horrific and something wrong was done. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you don’t hurt anymore and it doesn’t mean you have to trust the person again. Forgiveness is rooted in justice. Justice is what I owe another person or what another person owes me and forgiveness says you’re not going to have to pay me back what you owe me, I release you from your debt. It doesn’t forget or ignore injustice or say what was done was right. Forgiveness is an act of the will, it is an act of Love. Love is to will the good of the other without expecting something in return. At the sermon on the mount Jesus said “you have heard it said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. I say you should love your neighbor and love your enemy.” As Christians our love is grounded in the love that is God. At the heart of forgiveness is freedom. Freedom to move forward, to release others from their debt and release yourself from pain and to find peace with God’s strength and grace and may we all continue to forgive over and over as Jesus forgives us over and over. “
One final comment from another Thursday lady from her priest’s homily is “Forgiveness is a 3 step program – D P G = D is Decision/Determination to forgive; P It’s a process and takes practice; G It’s a gift to us from GOD and we should share that with others – Grace from the Holy Spirit”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times – Matthew 18:22
PS I love this song by Zach Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOEviTLJOqo It helps me when I have been wronged.
Cranberry Orange Scones
These scones are from Ina Garten. I didn’t change the recipe. They are scrumptious! Tender, flaky and the orange and cranberry flavors will get you in the upcoming Holiday spirit.