If we want to be more like God, shouldn’t we be as forgiving as Him too?
Whenever we pray “Or Father” and say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those trespass against us,” it’s not about Him forgiving us like how we do. Instead, He is inviting us to participate in the gift of forgiveness. He is inviting us to forgive as He does. Think about it. If God can tolerate my mistakes, shouldn’t I also tolerate the mistakes of others? if God can overlook my mistakes, shouldn’t I also overlook other people’s errors? If God welcomes me as His loving daughter despite all my sins and failures, shouldn’t I extend the same grace to others?
People often say, “it is not fair. He does not deserve to be forgiven.” But, no one who has offended another deserves forgiveness from the one they offended. It is not a right to be forgiven. Rather, it is a gift from the offended to the offender. We forgive not because the offender deserves our forgiveness but because we have been forgiven incomparably more by God whom we have all offended.
God’s main reason for forgiving us is not to absolve us from our sins or cancel our debts, it is to love us and show us His mercy. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is more of an opportunity to experience the unconditional love of the Prodigal Father, who lavishly and readily pours out His mercy, love and forgiveness onto us, even if we feel we may not deserve it, especially when we seem to be repeating the same old sins time and again. Moreover, after feeling His abundant and loving mercy, we would also start to find the strength and grace to forgive those who may have hurt or trespassed against us. We would be so touched by His mercy that we would forgive not simply because the bible tells us so but more so out of the love we have received from God which allows us to offer the same love to others.
Photo credit: Knights and Dames
Actually, the ability to forgive is not a very distant concept from us. It is already within our hearts because God has been giving His mercy and forgiveness (together with grace and love) to us ever since we were born into this world. Nonetheless, as humans, just as we had to learn to love, we also need to learn to forgive. We always say, “forgive and forget” but we usually only forgive but not really forget. According to Mother Teresa, we need both to truly forgive others. She said, we need love to forgive and humility to forget in order to do so like God. Loving, hence forgiving is easy. Its easy to love people, especially family and friends, hence making them easier to forgive. Indeed, when people say, “I’m sorry.” We readily say, “it’s okay. Apology accepted.” Am I right?
But, according to Mother Teresa, unless we forget, we have not fully forgiven. In fact, when we don’t forget, that’s how we hurt each other because we would bring the issue up again when another thing happens. Hence, nor forgetting results in not fully forgiving and as long as we remember, the issue would continue to hunt and burden us. Hence, in order for us to forget, we need to have humility and accept the fact that people are not perfect and we would always make mistakes.
This Lent, let us first learn to seek the Father’s forgiveness not simply out of fear for punishment, but rather in response to the generous love and mercy He wishes to pour into our hearts. Subsequently, we can be more able to not only “cancel the debts” of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also to become more like Christ in offering others His love and mercy.