In theory Our Lord’s commandment about forgiveness sounds fairly easy, but we all know how hard it can be to put into practice. This is one of those commandments that most of us would rather put off as long as possible. And yet throughout the Gospels we read how Our Lord placed a sense of urgency on reconciliation with our neighbours. He knows how anger can linger and grow into a bitterness that can not only destroy us inside but also splinter the unity that is meant to be the hallmark of his Church.
Anger and a lack of forgiveness stem from pride, but reconciliation requires a degree of humility. Maybe that’s why we sometimes consider forgiveness to be an almost impossible task. Our Lord knows how difficult it is for us to forgive, and he is always ready to help us. Our Lord also knows that reconciliation is a process that may take time and patience. He knows that it’s best done in a series of small steps rather than one gigantic leap; and he makes these small steps easier as we let him bear more of our burden.
Forgiveness begins with Our Lord nailed to the Cross praying for those who put him there: “Father, forgive them.” By forgiving us, God has paved the way for us to repeat those same words.
Love is the companion of forgiveness, and Our Lord is well aware how hard the call to love can be. During Lent let us ask for Our Lord’s help so that we can begin to take steps in the right direction and make some discernible progress; remembering that even when we fail, he offers us his love and mercy to continue on and try again.