“I can’t forget what that person did and I’ll never forgive them as long as I live!” Sound familiar? We’ve all heard it, may have said it, and unfortunately may be guilty of harboring a similar attitude right now. It can seem so satisfying at the time and we always find reasons to justify it. Compare that self-serving attitude to what our Catholic Faith teaches.
In Matt. 6:12, Jesus tells us to ask God the Father to only forgive us as we forgive others. Think of how many times we’ve said the Lord’s Prayer and those words. In 6:15 Jesus further states, “If you do not forgive others, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you”. Hmm. Since we’re all sinners, don’t we need to be forgiven to gain eternal life with God? (Answer: yes). Which means that forgiving others is not optional.
Let’s see now. God promises forgiveness, we ask Him in prayer to forgive us to the extent that we forgive others, then we choose to be stubborn and unforgiving. Exactly what are we thinking? Forgiving the person who has wronged us does not condone their hurtful actions, nor should it. And it may be that we need to avoid further association with that person. However, as directed by God’s Word, forgiving others is essential to our salvation. (Ref Sirach 28:1-7, Matt. 18:21-35, and Matt. 5:23-24).
It is by the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we obtain the power to forgive. The sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are prime sources of this grace and guidance, as is time spent in the Adoration Chapel with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As always, the Catholic Church has provided the necessary tools. It’s just a matter of learning how to use them.