Sometimes we need to be careful what we pray for. Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, even if we rattle off the words glibly and thoughtlessly, we pray for the strength to forgive others. We know that we want God’s forgiveness – but do we realise that the caveat on that prayer is that we actually forgive those who hurt and wound us? That’s a lot more tricky isn’t it, and I’m sure we can all run off a string of excuses why we should hang onto those hurts and wounds – and not forgive.
Forgiving those who have really hurt us, as in letting go and ‘forgetting’ those wounds, is one of the most difficult issues of all, because forgiving doesn’t numb our hearts and minds to the pain we feel. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that justice shouldn’t be carried out. The brutality of war, the genocide taking place in so many places the name of God, the sexual abuse of children all need to be stopped and the perpetrators justly punished.
It’s a difficult and complex issue, and we cannot ever claim that it’s easy, or be glib about it. But that doesn’t mean we should gloss over it, or put it in the ‘too hard’ basket. Our capacity and our willingness to forgive others is deeply linked to the unending grace of God, who not only forgives us for our failings, but forgets them completely as if they never existed.
Jesus reminds his disciples that there should be no end to their willingness to forgive others. How many times do we have to do it? Seventy times seven, or forget about counting. Just keep on doing it. God’s grace has forgiven us, made us as if we’d never sinned. How can we, however imperfectly, do less?
In peace, Mother Lynda