Christianity is laden with exemplary instances of people who have been wronged, hurt, wounded and injured but have turned back and wholeheartedly forgiven their persecutor. We have read about Sr Rani Maria’s killer being forgiven by her family, Pope John Paul embracing the person who attempted to assassinate him, and recently came the article of Fr. Xavier Thelakkat’s family coming forward to forgive the man who murdered him.
Forgiveness is one of the most important values that our Church is built on. Jesus set an example himself when he forgave the people who crucified him. He taught us to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. The Bible is filled with many instances and parables which highlights how the simple act of forgiveness brings a new leash of hope – the parable of the prodigal son is one such classic example. A salient example in the Old Testament is Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers who had sold him into slavery. The New Testament continues this teachings of forgiveness where Jesus has said there should be no limit to the number of times we forgive someone who does us wrong.
These ideas and teachings about wholehearted forgiveness coupled with a boundless love for those who sin against us make us ideal Christians. Forgiving a person is a tremendously difficult act, but an equally liberating one. When someone hurts us, we want vengeance; we want them to know our pain. If not retaliation, then we tend to carry the hatred towards him, speak ill or even curse him. But what we soon realize is that carrying this burden of grudge is detrimental to us – it weighs us down, makes us pessimistic, and obstructs our spirituality. Forgiveness does not mean it will instantly fix your relationships with the other person. But, it does mean you have come to terms with what was done and you no longer have a hard heart about it. Not forgiving someone, is an ungraceful weight to carry. The pain of hatred will hold us down from happiness. It is rather much liberating to turn around and welcome our persecutor into a forgiving embrace.
Though a noble act, forgiveness doesn’t come easily. To truly forgive it must come from our heart, that is why it is important to ask God for help so that he may soften our heart. Forgiveness is not something that can happen overnight. It takes time, but with God, it will happen much faster. So this season of Lent, let us make conscious efforts to forgive those who have hurt us and med our broken relationships.