JESUS' EXAMPLE OF FORGIVENESS by Fr. Bob Pierson OSB
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Jesus utters these words from the cross to show that he holds no malice toward those who are responsible for killing him.? Such forgiveness is very hard for us to understand.? As human beings, we are programmed to expect "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."? People who do bad things to us should have to suffer some consequence.? It is only right and just to expect that.?
And yet, Jesus’ mercy goes way beyond what is right and just.? I am reminded of the words to a favorite hymn of mine, "There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea.? There’s a kindness in God’s justice which is more than liberty."? Not only does God love us unconditionally, but I believe God wants us to share that same kind of love with others.? Jesus teaches us not to seek revenge, but to forgive, and his example from the cross is a very powerful witness to that call to forgiveness.
Are we aware of someone who has hurt us deeply?? Can we say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?"? But what if they DO know what they have done?? Can, or even should, we forgive them then?? I know that when I refuse to forgive someone, I hold myself bound in my resentment.? When I forgive, then I am set free, even when the other doesn’t admit what they have done.? Of course, forgiveness does not mean that I forget what has happened so that it can happen again.? I can and must set boundaries in relationships with those who have hurt me so that they cannot hurt me again.? But when I forgive, I let go of my right for revenge.? I decide not to retaliate.? And I am set free to love again.
"God, grant us the grace of forgiveness, so that we can be set free from anger and resentment.? Help us to love as you love, and to know that only with your help can we be able to answer your call to forgive."