questions on forgiveness?
"Peter came up and asked Him, 'Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?' " —Matthew 18:21
Most of us are like Peter. We have many questions about forgiveness.
- "How often must I forgive?" Seven times, that is, indefinitely, or, as Jesus emphatically states, seventy times seven times, that is, indefinitely times indefinitely (Mt 18:22).
- What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to let go of offenses committed against us and to express this by acts of mercy and love (see Lk 15:20-24). Pope John Paul II defined forgiveness as "the restoration of freedom to oneself. It is the key held in our own hand to our prison cell."
- How do I forgive? We cannot forgive by our own power. "To err is human, to forgive is divine," and we are not divine. Yet the Lord promised us His divine power to forgive. Therefore, forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to forgive.
- What if I don't forgive?
- We "give the devil a chance to work on" us (Eph 4:27).
- We are handed over to the torturers (Mt 18:34). These torturers may be such things as fear, loneliness, depression, frustration, anxiety, and self-hatred.
- We cut ourselves off from receiving forgiveness (Mt 6:12, 15), healing (Sir 28:3), prayer (Mk 11:25), and worship (Mt 5:23-24).
- If we persist in unforgiveness, we cut ourselves off from God forever and damn ourselves.
Unquestionably, we must forgive now. Decide to accept God's grace to forgive all for all they have done to hurt you.
Prayer: Father, scrutinize my heart and remove all unforgiveness.
Promise: "We follow You with our whole heart." —Dn 3:41
Praise: Alberto accepted the grace to forgive his daughter's murderer.
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July27, 2010
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