Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22).
Frequently Jesus has reaffirmed the indispensable obligation of all to forgive those who hurt us, to pray for our enemies, and to do good to those who hurt us! This grace to forgive those who have wounded us and to love and pray for our enemies far transcends and supersedes our natural powers. In sum, we need God's’ grace to forgive our enemies.
In the Our Father Prayer, Jesus inserted this very important command: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”In other words, forgiveness from God on our part is a two-way street. If we want to be a recipient of God’s forgiveness, then necessarily we must forgive those who have hurt us.
Following are some short and concrete suggestions to help us on the pathway to forgiveness and mercy!
Beg for the Grace - To forgive our enemies, to pray for them and to love them goes far beyond our fallen human nature. We desperately need God’s overflowing and abundant graces. Saint Augustine says that we are all beggars before God. Therefore, we should beg for the grace to forgive when we are put to the test.
Forgive Immediately - When we are offended, often the devil works on us right away fostering in our mind’s thoughts of revenge. If we respond to God’s grace of mercy and forgive immediately there is a very good chance that the victory is ours. In sum, be quick to reject vindictive thoughts and even more rapid to forgive!
Apologize - Never be afraid to say, “I’m sorry” Forgiveness is Given. You do not have to wait on an apology before you forgive. Forgiveness is what helps us let go of the wrong done to us.
Humility - Another efficacious spiritual weapon that we have in our armory is that of humility. If forgiveness proves laborious and near impossible, then call to mind your worse sin or your most embarrassing sin and the fact that God forgave you of this as soon as you begged for His mercy and forgiveness.
Mercy is a Two-Way Street - Remember that receiving God’s mercy is not a dead-end street, but rather a two-way street! If we want to experience God’s infinite mercy in our lives, we must extend our hand in forgiveness towards those who have offended us.
Jesus Bleeding on the Cross for You - After being hurt and maybe not willing to forgive, lift up your eyes to contemplate Jesus as He hangs from the cross. Remember what He has already gone through: sweating Blood, scourged at the Pillar, crowned with thorns, denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas, condemned being totally innocent, nailed to the cross, and shedding every drop of His Precious Blood.
Reconciliation – The most beautiful way to receive forgiveness is to seek the Lord’s healing mercy in Reconciliation. After having discovered where we need the Lord’s forgiveness, through an Examination of Conscience, seek the Lord’s mercy through the Sacrament. Not only does the Sacrament of Reconciliation free us from our sins but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us.
Finally, beg Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of mercy, for the grace to forgive!
This week have a family discussion about forgiveness, ask each member of the family for ideas on what they believe forgiveness is and is not and then bring your family to Reconciliation.
Resources from: Catholic Exchange; What’s in the Bible; Teaching Catholic Kids; USCCB