I was working at The Catholic Guy Lenten Mission Event session last night, and I heard some words I have heard before, but they struck me as if for the first time! Does that ever happen to you?
“Forgiveness is so powerful when it is given, and forgiveness is so powerful when it is withheld.”
Bruce explained, ‘holding on to issues or “unforgiveness” can make us all bent and deformed on the inside but forgiveness allows us to let go and experience true freedom.’
But let’s face it. Forgiving real hurt is more difficult than fasting, doing other penances or going to Church and saying our prayers.
Forgiveness is central to Christianity. Everything we do is tied back to our need for mercy from God and that forgiveness is freely available to us from God through His Son Jesus Christ. That is what we’re journeying towards in Lent.
However, if we are moving towards that forgiveness and carrying unforgiveness with us…WATCH OUT!
Why? Because the bottom line is this: you can’t ask God to forgive your sins if you aren’t willing to forgive the sins of others.
Forgiveness is an overriding Lenten theme. It invites us to reflect on our own willingness to forgive people who have wronged us, intentionally or unintentionally.
There’s an old saying that says: “forgive and forget.” But sometimes we can’t forgive wrongs done to us unless we remember; for example, a once happy relationship, then a wrong is done, and finally, a shattered relationship. At times, we have to forgive ourselves as well as others so that we can move forward with life.
When Jesus tells us to love others, he also gives us the grace to love and to forgive. To forgive as Christ forgives is sometimes impossible to do on our own. But Christ doesn’t ask us to forgive on our own. He simply asks that we participate in his gift of forgiveness.
God has already forgiven those who are truly sorry — and all he asks us to do is to participate in his forgiveness. Forgiveness is possible when we trust in God to bring healing, forgiveness and reconciliation to our broken relationships.
Forgiveness can be a long journey, but at the end lies freedom and new life.
What do you think God wants you to focus on for the remainder of Lent?
PRAYER: Lord, here I am. This is me in all my imperfections and I need you today. During this Lenten season help us to forgive others and forgive ourselves. We need your grace to be able to participate in your gift of forgiveness to become fully alive and all that we were created to be. Amen.