“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” - Matthew 5:23-24
How can we forgive those who do not want to be forgiven? Our deepest desire is that the forgiveness we offer will be received. This mutuality between giving and receiving is what creates peace and harmony. But if our condition for giving forgiveness is that it will be received, we seldom will forgive! Forgiving the other is first and foremost an inner movement. It is an act that removes anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge from our hearts and helps us to reclaim our human dignity. We cannot force those we want to forgive into accepting our forgiveness. They might not be able or willing to do so. They many not even know or feel that they have wounded us. Yet, when we reach out through forgiveness, we move forward toward inner healing and peace. We also invite those we seek to forgive to a similar conversion.
The only people we can really change are ourselves. Forgiving others is first and foremost healing our own hearts.
What forgiving have you delayed? Can you do it now, with God’s grace?
adapted from Henri Nouwen