Welcome to the series “YOU DID IT TO ME” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!
To Forgive All Injuries is the Third Spiritual Work of Mercy. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is not easy, it is something that has to be authentic, come from the heart, and we have to make up our minds about it. It is something that allows us to move on and it offers us freedom from past transgressions. It is fair to say that all Christians should be forgiving people, though we know from time and experience, this is not always the case. Why should forgiveness be a “Christian thing?,” simple enough that through Our Lord’s three short years of Ministry, He practiced forgiveness time and time again. Even at His last moments, He begged God the Father to forgive us, “for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Forgiveness has many faces, it is not a simple task. Though it really can be. There could be forgiveness that you do but that is not reciprocated from the other person who erred you, they might be stuck in thinking they were right and not offer the same charity back towards you. Many times the weak human soul just gets upset at this and goes back into being upset and then truly does not forgive the other person. But it must be clear that forgiveness does require the two people to talk calmly and offer each other those words, “I forgive you.” When my children hurt each other either through words or hands, they are required to apologize for their transgressions and ask at the end, “do you accept my apology?” In other words, “do you forgive me.” It is important, as parents that we teach our children from very young to realize that we need to cool down, talk things through and then ask for forgiveness. Accepting that apology is always the hardest point, we are hurt, upset, and do not even feel like talking to the person. Time heals this at times, in other times it just causes a bigger wedge between two people.
As Catholics, as Christians, we are required to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ and forgive all those who injure us. I know, I know….this is not an easy task but we know that being Catholic is not an easy task but it is task worth doing. The main point of a Catholic’s life should always be to strive to be in a state of grace, a heart who is heavy with anger, pride, or revenge cannot have a soul that is clear of sin. So forgiveness not only helps relationships, helps others, but also helps your own soul. How many times in our lives have we forgiven someone but that person never asked for forgiveness? Many.
In my life this has been more of a frequent pattern than not. The stepfather who abused me as a child is one prime example, you can read my testimony about this in this article entitled, “Broken Childhood, Healed by Christ.” He never asked for forgiveness from me. I never saw him again after telling the courts what he had done to me, he fled the country. But my anger built up against him was not good for MY soul. Did he hurt me? OF COURSE! More than he will ever know, deep seeded scars that will remain with me forever. Scars that attached themselves to me and affect my marriage, my children, my interaction with other adults and my children around them, it left me in constant fear, and doubt about others. But I came to a crossroad in my life where I realized that I was going about upset and angry about what had happened to me as a child. It was not my fault though at times I blamed myself, so why did I continue to carry this anger with me? Until the point that I realized that this anger and resentment was holding me back from being a happy person, a Christian person, I was not FREE. My forgiving a man who hurt me so bad was something I needed to do for my soul, my salvation. This was the moment when I realized also, that God was with me the whole time this was happening, He had not abandoned me. God sent the right people in my life at different moments to help my healing process from this horrible situation this sick man put me through. So, if God allowed me to heal, if He wanted me to move on with life and be free, how could I continue to store up hate for someone, anyone? It was time. Since that moment that I nailed my cross to Our Lord’s, the healing process began. Many hours in the Confessional and many hours with a therapist brought me out of the slavery of a being a victim of child abuse to being a free Christian woman! It was liberating! Forgiving him did not excuse his behavior, not at all. Forgiveness prevented his horrid behavior from further destroying my heart. Forgiveness made me stronger.
Many times saying, “forgive all injuries” is a difficult request, I know, Our Lord knew this too. He does not expect us to walk this path to forgiveness alone. He wants to lead us by the hand and help us learn how to forgive all injuries as He did. Forgiveness requires charity, it requires mercy, it also requires justice. When Our Lord said, “forgive your enemies” He was asking us something so difficult that alone we cannot do it, it is not even possible! Only with His help, His words, His counsel, His Church, His Sacraments, can we do this. Only through our staying in a state of grace, receiving the sacraments and staying close to them can we really life FREE Christian lives. Pride, anger, and vengeance are sins that hold back our souls, they enslave us and keep us from that beautiful grace which will allow us an inch closer to Heaven. As Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”
Do you have anyone that has hurt you that you need to forgive? Make a list, write a letter, pick up the phone, and start that healing process. You have the power to take away someone’s happiness by holding on to anger. That person is you!