God’s gift of forgiveness is priceless and life-giving. But, somehow living up to what we say is a lot harder. While we may acknowledge that God forgives us, we often struggle to forgive ourselves. And, while we may acknowledge that God forgives those who have hurt us, we often find it very difficult to extend forgiveness to others. We define justice largely in terms of retribution, and so we feel that forgiveness lets the perpetrator off the hook. We have also learned that our pain can give us a sense of power, and so we become reluctant to release our hurts and move on. Yet, while we nurse our wounds, the ones against whom we hold our grudges often continue with their lives, unaware of our anger and unaffected by our unforgiveness. In the end, the only ones we hurt are ourselves.

But the call to forgive goes even deeper. The word for forgiveness is related, in the Gospels, to the idea of indebtedness. There is a direct correlation between owing a financial debt and needing forgiveness. Yet, the idea of indebtedness goes deeper still. As followers of Christ, we are called to live with a continual sense of indebtedness toward others. We are always to feel that we owe our friends, our neighbours, and even our enemies, the debt of love. And it is this awareness of the love we owe to all people that should direct us to forgive whatever debts they may owe us, or whatever hurts they may have inflicted on us. The challenge is to believe that it is the restorative justice of love that truly leads to life.

This week we meditate on God’s forgiveness and the call for us to be people of forgiveness.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click here.