As we forgive those who trespass against us
Friday, August 21, 2009
By Father Mark Mary

Forgiveness is a decision, an act of the will. We might struggle with feelings of hurt and anger, but we can still forgive someone despite the pain and suffering we might have. It is a decision of the heart to let it go. We cannot forget what was done, but we can choose not to seek revenge. We can choose not to get back at or tear down the other person in any way by our words or actions. We just let it go; we dont hold on to it any more even if our emotions are all over the place.

Sometimes, we try to justify our resentment by thinking that we did nothing wrong; we are innocent. This might be true, but maybe our part in it is just the fact that we are holding on to it: reliving it and playing the tape over and over of the wrong done to us.

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy (Mt. 5:7), if you want to experience Gods love and mercy in a profound way: forgive someone. We share in Gods love and mercy when we are loving and merciful to others. When we do this, we put on the mind of Christ and begin to see others as He sees them.

It is really His love for us that liberates and transforms us to be able to forgive others. He first loves us and awakens in us the power of forgiveness. Christians should have the market cornered on forgiveness. We live and breathe by it. We go to confession; make daily examens; pray for it everyday in the Our Father; meditate upon it in the Scriptures; and celebrate it in the Liturgy. There is no heaven for us without the forgiveness of sins. How can we not give to others what we have so freely received?

Unforgiveness imprisons us. Our thoughts become consumed with the harm or offense done to us. Our vision flattens to a worldly view of things in which we, the wronged person, begin to attribute bad motives to everyones actions, become suspicious of everyones motives, and ultimately end in self-centeredness. Everything is about me and how it affects me our world becomes very small. Forgiveness allows us to break free from these chains and to live in the present moment in the radiance of Gods Providence. It allows us to experience His joy and grace. The rewards are great for those who practice forgiveness because it opens us up to others and to God.

          Do it now! This is Rachael Muhas advice. Rachel was a recent guest on Life on the Rock, speaking about the loss of her son. Her son was murdered in a random act of violence. Days before the authorities had even found his body, she was able to make an act of forgiveness of the two young men, both 18-years-old, who committed this senseless murder. Our excuses for a lack of forgiveness seem to melt away before such an example of merciful love. In the courtroom during the trial of the killers, she told them that my arms ache for my son and that now you will have to be my sons.

          Rachel and Chris, her surviving son, started a club called the Run the Race Club, which ministers to inner city youth in Columbus Ohio. She tries to help young people before they get into such a desperate state that they turn to violence. Her forgiveness has brought forth beautiful fruit from such a terrible act. Because she is not blinded by hatred, she can be motivated by love to make a difference in an increasingly despairing situation for so many youth of today. That is Gospel living.

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