Forgive as the Father has forgiven you

By | March 6, 2013

A quote from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians comes to mind as I read the parable of the father and son, “Forgive as the Father has forgiven you.” The parable of the “prodigal son” as it is often called, is one that we rightfully call to mind when we think of the Father’s great love for us always waiting for us to return. God does not hesitate to rush to us even while we are still a long way off. What a consolation this is to many when a heavy heart feels moved to return to God. The fullness of the return can be culminated in the great gift of the sacrament of penance where we are assured of the Father’s love and receive the gift of supernatural grace for the walk ahead. It is as if we have been given a ring and sandals as the parable says for the long journey yet to come.

But what of the challenge of forgiving others as the Father forgives us? This is very demanding. We are not God and yet we have access to the power and the love of God flowing through us. Our baptism and confirmation have sealed us with the Holy Spirit and have empowered us with the ability to enter fully into the love of God for others. This would include beginning to forgive even while those who have harmed us are still a long way off like the prodigal son.

We have all been hurt by persons in our life. It is as if these persons have taken any inheritance of trust and friendship we may have offered them and left with it never to return like the prodigal son seemed to have done.  Sometimes it would seem easier for us if they just left and we never had to deal with them again. But then it happens, they start to return. They have a change of heart and we can see them coming from a great distance, what to do?

Of course it is reasonable that we would never put ourselves back in a situation where we would be harmed or hurt again. Yet, there is an obligation that we show love in some way. We are indeed called upon to forgive and prayerfully consider what reconciliation might look like. Could there be some sort of bond of love or communication that could be restored. We have to be wise here and desperately need the assistance and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are not being asked to be consumed by the other person or have our life seriously altered by their return, but perhaps something could be done. “Forgive as the Father has forgiven you” is no small step. It takes time, thought and grace. Sometimes relationships are only restored within the Eucharist. In the Eucharist all persons and hurts are truly healed and in the reception of Holy Communion we are safely connected, even with those who have harmed us. The fullness of healing is absolutely accomplished in heaven, though we are still asked to do our part in beginning the great restoration now.

Opportunities for Holiness

1. Take time to pray with God about those who have hurt you and what a reconciliation might look like.

2. Think about whom you have hurt and ask God to bless them.

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Bernard Parish and St. Philip the Apostle Parish, Green Bay.

 

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