Forgiveness by Fr. Joel
God’s forgiveness is unconditional and beyond measure. It flows from the abundance of his love for us. John 3:16 says, ‘’for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.’’ And Jesus gave himself up for our sins: Matthew 26:28, ‘’this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’’ St. Paul explained this saying in Col. 2:13 ‘’When you were dead in in your sins and in un-circumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.’’ Hebrews 8:12‘’For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’’ Example of God love and forgiveness: Luke 7:36-50, Jesus pardon the sinful woman, ‘’…I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.’’ Woman caught in adultery was forgiven, (John 8:1). Parable of the lost sheep-Luke 15:1; Lost coin Luke 15:8; Lost son/prodigal son 15:1.
Christians and forgiveness-I believe forgiveness is a necessary choice that we must make to be truly happy in life. Refusing to forgive is disobeying God, selfishness, being mean to ourselves and others, and denying ourselves happiness. Matthew 18:21-22- Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘’Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me: Up to seven times?’’ Jesus answered, ‘’I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’’.
This means forgiveness is not a one-time issue. Forgiveness may be a life-long issue. You have to keep forgiving until you gain complete peace in your life. And complete peace is found only in union with God, and you cannot be united to God without forgiveness.
Col. 3:13 says, ’’Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’’ If God does not withhold our forgiveness, why should we withhold the forgiveness of another?
Praying for forgiveness– When you pray, God gives you the grace to ask for / to forgive. The spirit of God destroys the wall (arrogance)/ the spirit of un-forgiveness in our hearts. Prayers enable us to see things in God’s perspective. We come to see that person, who wrongs us, the way God sees him/her. God does see sinners as precious people and he still loves, and is ready to forgive them at any time. Prayer also makes us realize our own sins and makes see that we too need forgiveness.
Forgive and forget- These are two difficult things to do as a human being. However, they are really necessary for us as Christians. Lewis B. Smedes wrote in his book, Forgive and Forget, ‘’When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.’’
Anger and justice- Is natural for you feel the anger and seek justice for a wrong done to you. But it is spiritual/divine to forgive and have peace in your soul. No amount of justice or compensation can give you true peace. True peace can only come from God. And we can get it only by seeking and doing the will of God. Forgiveness is the will of God for us. It is not our duty to judge others. Luke 6:37 says, ‘’Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemn. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.’’
Love of Enemies-Luke 6:27- talks about paying evil with good. Beatitudes-Matthew 5:1 says, if you are merciful to others, you will receive mercy from God. Lord’s prayer-Luke 11:1says, God should forgive us as we forgive others
Confessing your sin to a Priest/Person- John 20: 22 ‘’Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’’ Matthew 16:18, 18:18 ‘’I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’’ James 5:13-19 ‘’…Is anyone among you sick? He should send for the priest of the church, they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that he may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. Elijah was a human being like us; yet he prayed earnestly that it may not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land.’’
Benefits of forgiveness: (Freedom and happiness). Forgive so that you will be forgiven too. Matthew 6:14-16 says, ‘’If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.’’ Forgive so that your prayers will be answered. Mark 11:25 says, ‘’ When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your father in heaven may forgive your sins.’’ ‘’We will know the work of forgiveness is complete when we experience the freedom that comes as a result. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from the anger, bitterness, resentment and hurt that previously imprisoned us’’ ‘’Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say they are sorry and even stronger person to forgive.’’ (Anonymous)