“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” - Matthew 18:20-21
When I signed up for this reflection, I was feeling pretty confident about what I would share and understood this topic quite well and was good. Little did I know what would transpire in my heart from the beginning of Lent to now and finding myself a bit uncomfortable grappling with this topic.
Forgiveness has not been an easy practice throughout my life. When I think I am well and good, some unexpected event will arise and trigger a painful memory from the past that will get me all riled up again. This has been a consistent pattern in my life that I have only recently begun to heal and move forward from, wholistically and cohesively. That is not to say that I have not been without my own faults and hurting others, oftentimes unknowingly, as well.
And that is where Jesus’ wisdom comes in today. He more than anyone understands the caverns and complexities of the human heart, how much there is to work through more than we ourselves do. Similarly, He also understands the potential of what is possible once that space has become more clear and free. The root of the word “forgive” comes from the Latin “perdonare” - to give completely, without reservation. What of this notion of fully making space for new possibilities once old grievances are let go? Forgiveness (whether of others or myself), then becomes much more about embracing what is life-giving moving forward than about placing away past hang-ups.
The focus becomes less about hang-ups over others or myself and much more about the invitation to deepen with Jesus. As Blessed Mother Teresa said in her “Anyway” poem, “Forgive them anyway… In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Is there a person in my life currently I am having difficulty with? How can I offer this more completely to Jesus, without reservation today?