The Cross of Forgiveness and Accountability
In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus challenged us to forgive and to continue to forgive beyond limits. It happened that a number of parents shared with me their thoughts on this. One group spoke of how as a parent they have to forgive over and over again. It is a fundamental aspect of helping their children grow. Children fail and parents have to help them get up and try again. Another parent spoke of the need to balance forgiveness with the setting of boundaries and the need to call her children to account for their behaviour. She also spoke of having to consider the needs of others in the family hurt by the bad behaviour.
It seems to me that these two movements, to forgive and to hold to account bad behaviour seem to go in opposite directions. They form a cross on which many parents suffer. How does one balance the two? I have no easy answers and I doubt that there are any. As a cross, the situations in which parents have to make difficult decisions will test their minds, their hearts, their patience and their love. They need to think hard, consider their own motives, judge what is best for all in the situation and then decide what they will do, and if they believe their decision is right, stick to it in the face of what will often be strong opposition. In such situations, parents rarely have a cheer squad telling them how well they are doing.
This week the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Cross. For most people, most of the time the cross we have isn’t something big and dramatic. It often is the daily challenge of forgiving and holding to account the people we live with and love.
Loving Father, I know you forgive me and want me to channel that forgiveness to my family. But you also want me to move out of bad behaviour and to challenge bad behaviour in my family. Send me the wisdom of your Spirit that I might love as Jesus loved, forgiving and challenging. I ask this in his name, confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb