Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reflection for Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Forgiveness is tough.  Forgiving somebody for inflicting pain on us, or someone we love, can be difficult and painful, perhaps even as painful as the original transgression.  In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us how to pray using the Our Father as an example, then goes on to stress the importance of forgiveness – indeed, the necessity – of forgiveness.  Unless we are able to forgive others, our sins and transgressions will not be forgiven.  
I have been trespassed against many times in my life, as have we all.  But I have also trespassed against others.  Each of those times I trespassed, I wanted nothing more than for the other person to forgive me.  It can be so hard to forgive another, especially if the transgression was particularly harsh.  Forgiving someone means seeing past the sin, and looking instead at the sinner.   Whenever I have been wronged, and am contemplating what to do next, I try to remember the times that I was forgiven, and how emotionally powerful that act was. 
Jesus of course provides the ultimate example of forgiveness – to be able to forgive the people who have killed you is the ultimate act of love, one that I cannot comprehend.  But if Jesus was able to do this, surely we can forgive others for their transgressions, especially those that are petty or slight. 
There are many ways we can immerse ourselves in this season of Lent – giving things up, acting in service to others, engaging in regular prayer.  But we should also consider the act of forgiving as another small, yet powerful way to engage with each other during Lent and beyond.  Lent is about recognizing our own sins, and how we can atone for those – part of this act must include both forgiving ourselves and others in the process.    A challenge for us all would be to forgive one person this Lenten season, no matter how small of large the transgression might have been. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. perhaps says it best about forgiveness:
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

We must recognize that as human beings, we are all sinners – we all make mistakes, we all inflict pain, and we all struggle with the act of forgiveness.  But seeing past the sin, and instead forgiving the sinner, is the very essence of the love which Jesus calls us all to embrace.

Bobby Wassel works in the Center for Service and Community Engagement and the Faith and Justice Collaborative. 

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