By Kathryn Trudeau
Forgiveness. What even is it? Do we truly know? “I forgive you.” This statement seems to roll right off the tongue, especially in the moment. Yet, I am convinced we cannot know true forgiveness until we have experienced mercy in a radical way.
As humans, we go through life gathering more experience and wondering if our ideas and perceptions are the right ones. We meet other people, we experience new things, and then all the sudden God takes the veil from our eyes. He slowly shows us how to be virtuous. We are made blind until the time we will appreciate the information most. This idea works with forgiveness too; until we experience the true gift of mercy, we will never know its amazing power of healing.
But how can we truly live our lives to the fullest if we are still a little foggy on forgiveness? Each day we each can strive to be more Christ-like. There are no excuses. With each day that passes, we can choose mercy or hate.
After the jubilee Year of Mercy, this special time in the lives of those who have found a new appreciation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation or experienced the peace in the gift of forgiveness, don’t you want to join us? Either of these two gifts from the Almighty are ones that shape the direction for the rest of your life.
Reconciliation can be confusing. So many people outside the Church, let alone inside, have questions, and if that's you, I highly recommend speaking with a priest, religious educator, or youth minister about this. If you have neither, find council in someone who seems to exemplify the Church and they can connect you with someone. This sacrament is one of the most powerful when understood correctly. There’s a reason why we have saints. They were once sinners and chose God’s redemption and grace to be more like Christ each day. This sacrament helps us forgive ourselves, and others, when it seems impossible.
Sin wounds us. If you imagine your body being wounded and infected, time after time, wouldn’t you want to visit a doctor? Saint Luke gives us the example: our spiritual doctor is God. Just as Christ cleansed the lepers or healed the blind man. These parables all relate to the state of our soul. Instead of putting a band-aid over a gaping wound, allow the Lord to help bandage. It takes time, perseverance, and commitment to heal. It can be scary to see the doctor, but in the long run it will help you heal.
My number one treatment is the Eucharist, but my runner up is reconciliation. It’s sometimes so hard for me to get myself to go to confession, but I feel so much better once I go. I recommend you try this treatment and commit to going so that you can begin to heal. To forgive, or be forgiven, can really change the course of your life. You choose love instead of hate; you chose God instead of the devil. To do so requires such persistence in following the Lord, but with hard work, the graces to come are worth it…
Forgiveness, whether given or received, is the radical gift of redemption. This gift is given to us by God; therefore, we are to give it to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The world will not understand it. Forgiving someone can be hard, and forgiving yourself can be the hardest. Regardless the situation, redemption is found at the foot of the Cross. Crucify your flesh and release your spirit to the Lord. Allow Him to radically change your life with the power of mercy.
Choosing mercy is choosing heaven.
There is a reason Christianity is so hard to really follow. We are called to turn the other cheek and endure persecution in the name of our Lord. We are supposed to love until we cannot love anymore. Again, to forgive is not easy. Many factors play into the hurt of sin, but this should not stop us from choosing the path less traveled. We are called to be Christ to others, and see Christ in them.
So if you are in need of forgiveness, or in need of forgiving, please seek out the conviction God has placed in your heart. Examine your conscious and let the Lord guide you words and actions with those you have conflicts with. Mother Teresa once said: “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” I challenge you to crucify your flesh and let your spirit unleash the love, joy and mercy of Christ to those around you. The human eye judges and sees them as unworthy, but through God’s eyes we see that no act or person goes unforgiven, and therefore, unloved.