My friends, today we have received a very clear message from God through our Scripture readings. We are told to forgive others all their trespasses against us. And, our forgiveness should not be once or twice, but seventy seven times. This is to mean it is an ongoing forgiveness, day after day and if necessary, year after year.
When we do not forgive someone, it is because we are passing judgement on that person. Jesus has commanded us not to judge others so that we will not be judged. As we have heard, by judging others and refusing to forgive them, the same measure will be used against us when our judgement time has come. So how can we forgive someone without judging them? It is by completely forgetting the sin committed by the person. It is by forgiving as a Holy child of God, forgiving them as God has promised to forgive us. He forgives those who trespassed against Him without counting, without ever mentioning it again, as if it never happened. Let us remember these words. “Being unable to forgive is the greatest obstacle to holiness.”
Many people find that they are unable to forgive because they do not possess the Divine love of God in their hearts. Even though they may pray, go to church and receive the sacraments, they have not opened their hearts to the love and forgiveness of God. The soul that cannot forgive does not have the truth of God in his heart. That means that such a person is not righteous and forgiving as God has commanded.
Most of us have been victims at one time or another. We may have victims of mental abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse and some may have been victims of sexual abuse. As victims we may say, it is not fair, first I was victimized by the offender and now I have been victimized by God. That is not true, God does not victimize anyone! God wants to heal all the souls that have been victimized. God wants these souls to forgive so their psychological suffering may come to an end. God wants the victims to let go of their past so that the past may totally fade away. God wants us to rid ourselves of the sufferings of bitterness and revenge, to shed ourselves of the Prince of Darkness from whom these feelings come.
When a person rejects God’s healing grace, he is committing spiritual suicide. When a person seeks revenge he is committing spiritual suicide. The same is true when a person abandons their faith because of what happened at the hands of an abuser. Spiritual suicide is a rejection of God’s holy way of forgiving.
Who is the greater offender, the murderer, the rapist or the adulterer? Most will answer the murderer. Yet in God’s eyes each one is an offender and each deserves equal punishment. Many examples of offenses against the Divinity of God can be provided. The one who embezzles from the poor is just as guilty of sinning as the murderer, and often the embezzler will have more victims. If a teenager is encouraged by his parents to consume alcohol in his home since an early age, who is to blame when this teenager becomes an adult alcoholic and kills someone while driving under the influence? What about the person who abused and molested a child, that person having been a victim of repeated abuses during his or her childhood? Will making this adult an outcast of society by the Christian community be the answer rather than providing this victim with the well deserved and long overdue help in the love of God.
If Jesus could forgive those who murdered Him, He who was sinless, He who was pure of heart, why is it so difficult for others to forgive so that the world a better place. Why not try the forgiveness of God and offer a helping hand and lead these troubled souls to God. Now, I am not saying this can work with all offenders, but we as Christians need to look at are those who were once victims themselves, those who could use our help and direction in finding forgiveness to those who did them wrong in the beginning.
What happens when a person receives the grace of God and finds it in his heart to forgive? He receives the peace of mind that has long been overdue. That person, who finds it in their heart to forgive feels a sense of relief, like a burden has been lifted from their shoulders. Isaiah tells us, ” What was once known as peace, was bitterness, but now God has held back the life of the person from the pit of destruction, for God has cast all his sins behind His back.”
We should all consider our past experiences of being unforgiving as a training towards our own sanctification, such having been permitted by God to humble our souls so that we may conform ourselves to His Divine likeness and will. Once we come in agreement with God’s will by forgiving from the sincerity of our hearts, then and only then, we will begin to experience Divine peace.
In closing, we should all be of one mind in uniting our prayers for the needs of the victims of abuse and those who abuse them. The prince of darkness seeks to direct hearts towards revenge and the ongoing suffering upon others. Let us pray that God’s Grace will transform the hearts of those who are committing spiritual suicide, that they may forgive their brothers and sisters from their hearts for the eternal glory of God our Father.