Tomorrow may be different
Duke Tufty, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: If you can’t forgive someone who has hurt you deeply, then you can’t forgive them.
That’s fine. Don’t even try to forgive them if you know you are going to fail. Don’t desire to forgive them if you feel it’s not possible. If you believe you can’t forgive them, then that is the fact of the matter, so accept that fact along with the hurt, pain and suffering that go along with it.
However, if you are open to thinking differently about it, then I put forth this food for thought. When you say you can’t forgive someone, what you are really saying is you can’t forgive that person “today.”
Shift your thinking to accommodate that notion. Today you can’t forgive the person. Tomorrow is another day, and things might change.
In addition, to forgive in the truest sense means to give for. If you were to forgive this person you would literally be giving up your hurt, pain, anger and suffering for peace of mind, a greater sense of well-being and freedom from anguish.
This is your choice. It has nothing to do with the person who hurt you or what he or she did. Do you want to make that trade? If you do, you can. If you don’t, it’s like hitting your thumb with a hammer and hoping the other person will feel the pain.
Forgive the debt and debtor
The Rev. Justin Hoye, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Kansas City, Mo.: Everyone needs forgiveness, including you and me. This is not bad news. This is Good News, because in the person of Jesus Christ, God demonstrates a love that forgives and enables us to forgive.
For Christians, the Easter season celebrates not simply the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, but also the truth that the resurrected Christ, still bearing the wounds of his scandalous crucifixion, breathes “Peace.” That is, in the light of such terribly unjust treatment — betrayed, denied, scourged, mocked, stripped and killed — God communicates unfathomable mercy.
So must it be with us, and Jesus cautions against those who would refrain from showing such mercy.
In the Gospel of Matthew (18:35), Jesus lays out the consequences for anyone who does not forgive “his brother from his heart.” In the parable, a servant was unable to pay back a debt to his king. The king, in an act of mercy, forgave the servant his debt. However, the newly debt-free servant refused to forgive his fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount. Such hardness of heart does not bode well in the presence of the just judge.
Forgiveness is always possible. By reflecting on the gift of God’s mercy offered us in Jesus Christ, we allow God’s grace to initiate that forgiveness from the heart that sets another — and ourselves — free.