Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A fresh look at forgiveness

Lent is a time of reflection. The faith traditions that celebrate (is that the right word? Hmmm) Lent see it as a time in the desert.. a time of dryness...a time to contemplate how we are doing (usually not as well as we think we are) and look forward to the refreshing Water of the Resurrection. For most people, that includes a look at forgiveness..both at God's forgiveness of us, and of our forgiveness of others. As I was reading earlier this week, I came across this essay on forgiveness by Father Richard Veras. It was written on the fourth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I hope you enjoy this excerpt...

Forgiveness does not begin with feelings, it begins with a judgement. A true judgement begins with the fact that God is ultimately the judge of the living and the dead. The truth regarding those terrorists, and anyone else who has hurt me, is that I have no say in their final destiny. Their salvation is between them and God the Father. Only the Father knows the offenders heart; and only the offender can use his freedom to accept or reject God's fatherhood. I don't know how much responsibility belongs to the person himself, and how much belongs to the person's culture or environment; only God knows. I do not know if there is anything in the depth of the person's being which can still repent of sin and respond to mercy and embrace the truth; only God knows. Forgiveness begins when I say to God the Father, "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend their spirit. You are justice. You are mercy. I trust in you.

...Before God, before our ultimate destiny, I am not the judge. In fact, I am not even the jury. God will not consult me, for only he, in his infinite wisdom, can see into the depths of the infinite and so often twisted human heart.

Let us remember that we, like Peter, are in the Presence of Christ who tells us that forgiveness is limitless.

What stood out to me was the fact that "I am not the judge. I'm not even the jury. God will not consult me.." Wow. I'm not saying I haven't given this lip service, but this time it was like a jolt of electricity. My feelings don't change God's feelings. The human heart is infinite, and God's mercy is infinite. God's forgiveness is "limitless."

A comforting and challenging thing for me to contemplate this Lent.


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