Monday, May 25, 2009

On forgiveness

I quote Henry Nouwen who says that “forgiveness has two qualities: one is to allow yourself to be forgiven, and the other is to forgive others”. The first quality is harder than the second. It may put one in an irrational defensive mode where one might say “I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t need your forgiveness”. We have ALL sinned against each other in one way or another, some more grievous than others, which calls for a contrite and deep examination of conscience. True restoration begins with the person.

On the subject, I received the following insightful piece in the mail, courtesy of my good friend Juni A.
Author Unknown
May 24, 2009

The most creative power given to the human spirit is the power to heal the wounds of a past it cannot change.

We do our forgiving alone inside our hearts and minds; what happens to the people we forgive depends on them.

The first person to benefit from forgiving is the one who does it.

Forgiving happens it three stages: we rediscover the humanity of the person who wronged us; we surrender our right to get even; and we wish that person well.

Forgiving is a journey; the deeper the wound, the longer the journey.

Forgiving does not require us to reunite with the person who broke our trust.

We do not forgive because we are supposed to; we forgive when we are ready to be healed.

Waiting for someone to repent before we forgive is to surrender our future to the person who wronged us.

Forgiving is not a way to avoid pain but to heal the pain.

Forgiving someone who breaks a trust does not mean that we give him his job back.

Forgiving is the only way to be fair to ourselves.

Forgivers are not doormats; to forgive a person is not a signal that we are willing to put up with with what he does.

Forgiving is essential; talking about it is optional.

When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner we set free is us.

When we forgive we walk in stride with the forgiving God.


Engineer said...

For me, forgiving someone is a measurement of your love to God. If you have a deep relationship with God, giving forgiveness is not that hard. That's the reason why, saints can easily forgive their traitors or persecutors. Nevertheless, with the power of the Holy Spirit, one person could forgive the offender. If you can't forgive someone, ask the help of the Holy Spirit.

Why do we need to forgive? it is for the benefit of the offender but most especially to the one who gives forgiveness. Forgiving someone will restore everything (ie. psychological, spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual being of a person.) If we don't then we decided to prolong our agony of hatred and anger which lead to sickness. If you don't forgive then you are comfortable to live inside your prison cell of hatred.

To forgive or not is up to you!

WillyJ said...

the agony of hatred and anger which lead to sickness -Engineer

How true. Not only spiritual sickness but physical sickness. The reverse is the bliss of joy, peace of mind, harmony and serenity. It happens all the time. And that part about the Holy Spirit - "without Me you can do nothing". Thanks!

aeisiel said...

I just wanted to dispel a myth about forgiving others. It is true that we have to let go the hate and be ready to forgive but we just cannot simply forgive anyone who is not sorry and not asking for our forgiveness. Because before God forgive us our sins, He obliges us, sinners, to be repentant and must ask for His forgiveness, so same goes for us before we forgive others they should be sorry and ask us for our forgiveness. We simply just cannot do beyond what God requires.One might ask, why in the Lord's Prayer we are taught to forgive those who sin against us (Mt 6:12 and Lk 11:4). This is simply taking the verse out of its context. We have to read it within the prayer. Remember that the "Our Father" is a corporate prayer, prayed as a congregation. The faithful is asking for forgiveness from God and from each other simultaneously.

WillyJ said...

To the extent that we passively tolerate the sin committed against our person, yes - that is a misapplication of true charity. We have a duty towards fraternal correction: "If your brother or sister has sinned against you, go and point out the fault..." (Mt 15-17). Yet He also tells us to "love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt 5:44). Compassion, correction, and prayers should go hand-in-hand in extending charity to those who sin against us.

aeisiel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aeisiel said...

I deleted my previous comment as it needed changes; here is the revised version…

In Mt 5:44, when Jesus said to love your enemy, he tells the Jews that the Gentiles are not the real enemies and counters their disdain for non-Jews who continue to live in Palestine. He broadens the meaning of neighbor to include Gentiles (even their Roman persecutors), as some Jews held a narrow interpretation of love your neighbor (Lev 19:18), restricting it only to one’s fellow Jew and treating all non-Israelites as enemies (Deut 20).

That’s why in Mt 18:17, "… and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." when all means of reconciliation failed, Jesus tells to disassociate with and despise the impenitent with the same scornful way they treat the Gentiles for the unrepentant sinner is the true enemy.

WillyJ said...

As to loving your neighbor/ enemy, I have been studying it on and off for sometime which led me to post on the subject
, on the two documents of the Church which provides the most relevance. I guess Unitatis
Redintegratio and Nostra Aetate should be read within the context of Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes to fully appreciate its meaning. John Paul II's Ut Unum Sint will also be helpful, as well as later Church pronouncements on the subject. What is evident is that Vatican II chose to de-emphasize the conversion of separated brethren and non-Christians (without downplaying its importance) but instead emphasized respect and the process of achieving unity. This is my initial impression.

With respect to Mt 18:17, I think its practical application boils down to ecclesiastical disciplinary actions, the most extreme would be excommunication. But then again, even excommunication is considered as a pastoral tool, so it is still a form of fraternal correction (thus an act of charity) with the hope of eventual reconciliation.

aeisiel said...

Willy, you’re absolutely right, Mt 18:17 does stress disciplinary actions by leaders of the Church and it is indeed necessary to exert all efforts to win every lost sheep back to the flock.

lee woo said...

People do make mistakes and I think they should be punished. But they should be forgiven and given the opportunity for a second chance. We are human beings. See the link below for more info.


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