Saturday of the First Week of Lent

DT 26:16-19, MT 5:43-48

I think that one of the greatest challenges that Our Lord asks of us is that of forgiving others, especially forgiving those who have angered us, hurt us, or done something to us that resulted in an injustice. Remember the old adages "to forgive is divine" or "forgiveness is divine?" Do you know why they say that?  Because forgiveness IS divine!  It is not possible to forgive others without the great grace of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more" (#385).  When we are steeped in anger, bitterness and resentment we do need to be lifted up above what pulls us down and that is what grace does.  Grace, which is Divine assistance, lifts us up and enables us to be merciful like God.

What about asking for forgiveness? I recall many years ago when someone did something very wrong to me.  I called it to the person's attention and did it very clearly.  That person was insulted and decided to ignore my presence, to "write me off," and even said to others, about me, "he is dead to me." Even though I did nothing wrong, one day I took a risk and spoke with that person in a gentle way and chose to ask for forgiveness for anything I may have said that was offensive. The person listened to me and said that my apology was not accepted.  It was thrown back in my face.  I could do no more to help the situation, and it never came to a good resolution. That is one of the risks we take in asking for forgiveness. It demands true humility and honesty and could be rejected by the other, for whom we continue to pray.

Yet, the Lord Jesus asks us to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.  We do have the assurance that whenever we ask for forgiveness from God in a heartfelt manner, God always forgives us.  God's great mercy is greater than any human weakness.  After receiving forgiveness from God, especially after the great healing that takes place in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, were you to ask God what your sins were, I imagine God would say, "I don't remember anymore..."

Fr. Edward Vella, C.Ss.R.
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