Is it possible to forgive?

Posted by

The WORD in other words (2023) by Fr. Magdaleno Fabiosa, SVD — Holy Name University, Tagbilaran City, Bohol

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For us who have been hurt by a friend, for whatever reason, we know that forgiveness is achingly tricky. Even after we’ve forgiven, the wound still throbs, the ache still lingers, and our heart remains angry and resentful. That is why what comes as a natural reaction is to reject that someone who pained us to be part of our life.

But no matter how we try to make that somebody as non-existent as possible, deep inside us, the thought of what happened hangs like a Damocles sword disturbing us to no end. A psychologist said:  “No matter how we make them not anymore part of our life and deny they exist, they inevitably poison our system to no end.” The only way out of that rot is to forgive.

But is forgiveness possible? It is by no means easy. We say, “I will forgive if the other fellow begs pardon or shows signs that he/she is sorry.” Putting such a condition to our forgiveness does not work. Both parties will be watching each other like a hawk to see whether there is a sign, hinting that the other party is sorry. This is a no win-win solution.

The only remedy is the realization that God had forgiven my sins and given me another chance. This is the lesson Jesus wanted to teach us in the parable of The Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18:23-35). The parable ends with the Master telling the unforgiving servant who was unwilling to listen to his fellow servant’s request for a time leeway to pay his meager debt: “Were you not bound to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18, 33) (forgoing your very huge debt!). 

I take the first move. Instead of waiting for my neighbor, I defy the natural law of retribution by breaking the cycle of ungrace: TAKING THE INITIATIVE to forgive. I do this because God took the initiative to forgive me. St. Paul would say: “He (Jesus) died for me!”  This is the heart of the gospel message.

God’s forgiveness is unconditional;  it comes from a heart that  demands nothing for itself, a heart that is empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice. It calls me to get beyond the arguments that forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that still throbs with pain; it demands of me not to stoke the ember of resentment by not entertaining the memory of what happened. Time and the grace of God will play their part to heal the pain eventually. 

Is it possible to forgive? I want to observe and follow the law, but it seems it is too much for me. I come to a point to acknowledge the fact that if God does not help me, I will never be able to do it. Goodwill is not enough. With God’s grace, it is possible. And when God’s grace gives us the strength to forgive, it is a resurrection experience, getting out from the dark tomb of self-absorption and self-pity to the sun’s bright light that the love for the neighbor brings to our life. Although not easy, it is worth the trouble.

One comment

Leave a Reply