On Forgiveness (Forgiveness Sunday Homily 2009)
Fr. Leonard Herrem
God will forgive us as we forgive others.
This may be one of the more significant parts of our relationship with God.
As we go through life, we are on the receiving end of hurts – unfairness.
If we grow up healthy, we first realize life is not always fair at about age ten or twelve. In dysfunctional or abusive situations, this awareness will be much earlier.
When we are treated unfairly, we may react in anger or resentment. This is very natural.
If we treat others unfairly, we may react in guilt, or remorse or shame. This is very natural.
Or we may be tempted to avoid these painful emotional reactions and justify our behaviors that could be less than Godly.
We may justify our bad behavior when being unfair to others. Maybe we think “they deserved that and worse!” We become self-appointed God’s instrument of justice.
Or, if we are treated badly. We may choose to avoid this emotional pain by deciding that we “deserved it” –that it is OK because God is punishing us, and we should not be thinking that they were giving us what we asked for.
In the same way, we justify other people’s unfairness to us. Same problem. We decide what God’s justice is, only to ourselves, rather than to others.
Asking for forgiveness from others is a project of humbling-of humility. We accept our responsibility for wrongdoing and present this reality in humility and vulnerability to others, not really knowing for sure what the result will be.
This is a powerful experience.
When someone comes to us to ask forgiveness in humility, we can be taken by surprise. This is also humbling and at the same time powerful.
As we receive the forgiveness of others, we may realize that it is undeserving. We do not earn points in order to overcome our bad behaviors or our actions of unfairness to others. The damage is done, there is nothing available to undo a wrong. We do not earn forgiveness; all we can do is hope for mercy.
As we give someone our forgiveness, we may be tempted to hold back some resentments. This can be a difficult task because they were not faire-not nice - something is not right. We could still be angry. How can this possible be right?
As we accept the gift of forgiveness, we will experience a powerful healing. The guilt and shame of our bad behavior is healed by love and grace.
This is difficult to accept because it is undeserved. We cannot earn this gift- it is a gift.
As we give a gift of forgiveness-unconditional forgiveness without resentments – we also experience a healing.
We step away from a self-appointed position of holding in judgment over someone and let God alone be the judge of what is justice. We no longer need to be consumed by resentment that can eat up our soul to destruction.
As we learn to forgive, God will forgive us and give us a gift of healing. We are forgiven.
As we learn to accept forgiveness, God can heal us of our sinful nature and consequence of our bad behaviors.
God’s justice is very strange. It is a justice of forgiveness, not of imposing consequences.
We do not deserve God’s gift of forgiveness. We can only accept it. It is God’s grace.
What are the most difficult parts? Not sure
Being asked forgiveness
Or receiving Gods unconditional and undeserved love. This is the Heavenly treasure.
Our focus is on Christ, and only Christ.
Our relationship with God is extremely focused on God’s love for us, and our ability to receive God’s love by being forgiving and forgiven.
Great Lent is an opportunity to focus on this relationship and to use the tools at hand for this purpose-to build on Treasure in Heaven.
God grant us the Grace and Power to see Him clearly.