Forgiveness is a power that counteracts then serves as a remedy to the energy of the pain we experience. Forgiveness is a power that as deep as the pain may be, there is a strength and a comfort that goes beneath the pain of the wound whether physical or emotional. We are hurt by words, looks, being included or excluded from a situation, caused by intent and neglect. No matter why the incident happened, our pain is real if we have felt it. But God offers the gift that allows us to move past the pain through the act of forgiveness. Forgiveness comes when we make the effort to ask for it.
To enjoy the benefit of forgiveness requires a great deal of awareness. If we have caused pain in others, we must be willing to own up to our mistake and make the first step to say we were wrong and ask for forgiveness. We have to look at the incident and see that our actions were the origin of the pain others are feeling. To ask for forgiveness requires that we confront our actions, to determine what caused us to do what we did and to understand the harm our actions have caused someone else.
Forgiveness is an event, it’s not an idea. It requires genuine, heartfelt sorrow for what we’ve done. It requires us to claim ourselves as human, as flawed, as a sinner. Acts of forgiveness are a blend of our owning up for the hurt we’ve caused and by the balm that God gives through divine forgiveness only possible through the love God has for each of us. We must make an effort to “make right” what is wrong in our lives. Forgiveness can be external to others or internal to our harshest critic – ourselves.
Forgiving ourselves over incidents of the past requires the will to face our fears, to do something about what we painfully hold inside. Finding the courage to face the truths that cause pain for us is possible by the mercy and grace of God’s love. We read in scripture that the apostles wanted to quantify how often they were to forgive. They seem puzzled and disappointed when Jesus told them “not seven times, but 70 times 7 times.” The large number is possible by God’s grace and our will. All things are possible with God: events in nature and forgiveness within our lives.
God’s grace and his love is there when we are ready to take the first step toward reconciliation. With God’s grace, past failures and unresolved hurts allow us to become more at peace with others, with ourselves and with God. Acts of forgiveness allow to be more lovable, more discerning, more capable of devoting ourselves to lives that enrich humanity. May we be open to the effort acts of forgiveness requires to enjoy the benefits forgiveness brings to the others and ourselves.
Deacon Roger Duffy is the business manager at St. Brigid Church and guest columnist.