I listened to a song on the radio the other day called ‘The Other Side’ recorded by the Canadian singer Anne Murray which contained the following lyrics: “On the other side of doubt is faith; on the other side of pain lies strength; the journey may seem endless and the road you know is rough, but on the other side of fear is love.”
Our Lord’s words to St. Peter at the conclusion of today’s Gospel describe the same cycle of growth from doubt to love. The essence of his message is that unless we overcome doubt, pain and fear, we will not be able to love or experience love, nor will we be able to forgive or experience forgiveness.
Faith, strength love and forgiveness are all precious gifts from God. They are gifts because they set us free. Overcoming doubt and fear frees us to trust that we can move mountains standing in the way of our growth to holiness – for most of those mountains are only in our minds.
Freed to trust, we are empowered to let our hearts explore the other side of fear and find love. We are strengthened to stand before God in prayer and believe, really believe, that we will be heard and answered in love. For we pray not because we love prayer, but because we love God.
For Our Lord, forgiveness is closely linked with worship – prayer. Our Lord told his disciples that if they were going to the temple to pray and remembered that they were holding a grudge against someone, they should leave their gift at the altar and go first to be reconciled with that person.
But forgiveness is not an instinctive response when we are hurt. Forgiveness calls us to cross over the pain, to find the strength to overcome our fear, know love and out of that love, give ourselves and others the gift of forgiveness. Forgiveness has been described as the final form of love. Our faith assures us that our loving God will be there to welcome us back with open arms whenever we repent of our sin. May we have the grace to do the same thing for others.