REFLECTION by Dianne Bergant CSA
A distinctive feature of the teachings of Jesus is his exhortation to forgive. Very explicit about this, Jesus left us his own example by forgiving his executioners while he hung dying on the cross. Until recently we thought that forgiveness begins with the offender repenting of the offence and then asking for pardon. Today many maintain that reconciliation must begin with the one offended offering forgiveness. This willingness to forgive transforms a victim into a survivor. Such magnanimity might then touch the heart of the offender, who may thus be transformed from being an offender to becoming a friend.
If God has been so generous in forgiving us, surely we should be generous in forgiving others. The process of becoming a forgiving person takes time. For some, it may take a lifetime. Only little by little are our pettiness and indignation reduced and our desire to strike back diminished. Still, as disciples, we are expected to give the forgiveness that we have been given.
Such forgiveness does not provide an easy way out for offenders, for ultimately justice will prevail. If we remain untransformed by God’s forgiveness of us, we will be liable to judgment. Our unwillingness to forgive can eat away at us, and we can carry hurts from childhood far into adult years. Forgiving others, as difficult as that may be, is in the long run much easier than bearing the weight of resentfulness, vindictiveness and unresolved frustration. When we forgive we truly begin to be healed.
© Dianne Bergant CSA