From: Mary Zimmerman
God asked me to write on forgiveness quite some time ago. Just as I didnít particularly want to write a past article on hell, I donít especially want to write this one, but last Sundayís Mass being so much about forgiveness, I knew it was time to face this article.
Iím very ready to admit I struggle with sin like everyone else, but with Godís help I will prevail in the end (so can you). It just takes a bit of effort on our part, along with a good dose of humility to say, Iím sorry. In fact, Father Jim in his homily said Sunday its a miracle of grace, so we neednít try to accomplish this feat on our own but call upon the name of Jesus and allow a drop of His most precious blood to saturate our wounds and heal our hearts of unforgiveness. Jesus says forgive others and Iíll forgive you. We ask that each time we recite the Lordís Prayer - forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us. We donít say except so and so and so. We all must have heard, how many times we are to do this? Jesus answers, no, not 7 times but 77 times.
At this time with Deacon Jimís permission, Iíd like to add some comments from his recent sermon. I quote: ďDoes forgiveness have a limit? Do you say to somebody, look, you have gone too far. There are some things that I can forgive just so long. I have already forgiven you seven times for what you did. Thatís it, you have gone beyond the limit. We must pattern our heart after Godís, eager to forgive, no matter the wrong or how deeply it penetrates us. When we forgive another person God will not only dwell in the heart of the person that forgives but also in the person being forgiven. We need Jesus who will give us the divine power to forgive. Godís abundant mercy to us is the motivation for us to be merciful to others.Ē
Getting back to last Sundayís Mass which happened to be September 11 also, just a word or two on that. It was indeed a most tragic event with the loss of life, all the sadness and terror it caused. Well, ten years later, we are still fighting two wars in retaliation for this event which greatly increased the loss of life. Iím just not for war. I think our money could be so much better spent in feeding and clothing and sheltering the poor. Then, first cry out for God to bless America. I think He is just waiting to do that.
Now Iíd like to share just a bit from last Sundayís readings from the Book of Sirach. I quote: ďWrath and anger are hateful things yet the sinner hugs them tight. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Remember your last days, set enmity aside, think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor. The word of the Lord.Ē
Now let these words of song sing out for Godís mercy. I quote: ďForgive us, Christ, the stoney heart, the callous blinded eye, the careless deed, the heedless word, that causes love to die. Forgive the bitter, biting thought, the unforgiving mind, the cherished memory of hurt, that makes the tongue unkind.Ē
Mending relationships isnít something that comes easy or without help from God. Let Him be our strength in our human weakness. Perhaps itís only then we will receive the grace to say the miracle words ďIím sorry,Ē to be used generously by spouses, parents, children, brothers, sisters, whoever needs to. I would guess every time we make a gesture of forgiveness, be it these words, a hug, or handshake, God smiles and hugs us in return.
As I end this article I realize how important it is. I pray it will bring hearts together in love and forgiveness for each other, reaching out to the very heart of Jesus Himself. Peace be with everyone. Somewhere in this article ask the question, ďWhat would Jesus do?Ē Then resound His words - ďFather forgive them.Ē