Grace to you!
In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote: "Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war" (p.66).
As I minister in different settings and parts of the world, one of the most challenging experiences is bringing healing to those hurting or torn apart because of the harm done by another. The wound seems deep and unbearable if inflicted by a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a close collaborator.
I realize, too, that many suppose forgiveness is an instant experience. Unfortunately, they realize that many days, months, or even years later, one aspect or another of the past harm still hurts. After a roller coaster of "I have forgiven" testimony, they notice the excitement is short-lived as the hurting memory refreshes the conflict and bad feeling.
No matter how dramatic experience of healing from hurts could occur, it takes time and regular spiritual exercise of forgiveness until it no longer hurts. Forgiveness is a process and not a onetime thing. For some, the process can be completed in a short period. It is not the case for many others. Depending on the nature of the hurt, it could take months or even years for one to heal.
I have one litmus test to measure if the process of forgiveness is complete. It is when no aspect of the offense or things that were done against us, for which we are in pain, hurts anymore.
Let's say somebody lied or discriminated against you. It hurts. Does it not? Perhaps, you prayed about it, and by the grace of God, you chose to forgive. Days later, you realize the memory still hurts.
Though you have chosen to forgive the person, your healing isn't complete yet. There are some aspects of the event that you have not entirely forgiven and, therefore, not completely healed. Continue to present that aspect, or memory, before the Lord in the prayerful spirit of forgiveness.
Pay attention to the Lord's dialogue with Peter regarding forgiveness as it indicates the process involved. Peter asked: "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" The Lord Jesus replied that it isn't seven times but seventy times seven (Mt 18:21-22).
Not only does this specify the infinite number of times, as the Jewish understanding of seventy times seven indicates, it also points to the reality of the process of forgiveness. The Lord inspires us to walk with him and consistently to choose to forgive until we have been completely healed. Meanwhile, we acknowledge our weaknesses, too, since no one is without sin; no one has not offended another.
We all know this isn't easy. If it is easy for you, you must be an incredible living saint or from another planet. The hurt isn't easy to bear, either.
Are you dealing with the challenging situation(s) where you are hurting because of something done against you or your loved one? I pray for you today, for the grace of healing from the hurt and forgiveness, since it is a holy duty to forgive. It is a blessing, too, to do so.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Ordinary Time A: Readings: Jos 3:7-10, 11, 13-17; Mt 18:21-19:1]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.