Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Thought on Forgiveness This Lent

I just finished reading The Illumined Heart by Frederica Mathewes-Green.  I won't do an elaborate review because the book is an easy read that you could practically finish just as quickly as reading about it.  It is worth reading, too.  In particular there are some very apt sayings that we should all remember in our struggles to be good Christians.

I'll quote one of these.  In speaking about forgiveness she says, "We release the one who hurt us from his debt, seeing what a greater debt God has already given us.  To the best of our ability, we should try to resume a relationship and behave toward the person with love, since that is the kind of forgiveness God models toward us." (94)

How often people say, "I'll forgive you, but I can't forget," meaning we'll never actually be friends again.  Is this actually forgiveness?  I've always felt it isn't.  Indeed, when we pray the Lord's Prayer and say, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," I always felt that there was something to this not only of forgiving, but the way in which we forgive.  If we forgive fully so God will forgive us.  If we merely say the words without feeling the forgiveness in our hearts, will we still be forgiven?

As I think of the struggles in my own life and those within my diocese these words from The Illumined Heart really strike home.  I think there is a lot of talk and a whole lot less actual forgiveness going on...  May God grant us all the strength to truly forgive as He does.

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