This rich array of nuances of meaning suggest that partners of this God need neither grovel in fear and guilt nor complacently assume any cheap grace. Forgiveness is a function of the restoration of mutual fidelity, and forgiveness therefore happens according to the disposition of the parties toward each other in a particular time and circumstance...The theological root of forgiveness in the character of YHWH has immense implications for the life of the world. God’s willingness to forgive makes possible and authorizes the practice of neighborly forgiveness. Israel will make no cleavage between the love of God who forgives and the love of neighbor who must be forgiven.
Reverberations of Faith
Asked to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, a man pretended he did not know it, because he knew that if he said it he would have to forgive the merchant who cheated him – and that was something he had no intention of doing!
—Charlotte Dudley Cleghorn,
in Feasting on the Word
It is also not surprising that it is hard. Forgiveness is an important element in the love of God and neighbor into which we are growing. Love as the Fathers and Mothers speak of it is not a single, simple action or emotion we either feel or don’t feel at any given moment. Love is a disposition we grow into, or are healed into, or are transformed into be God. It is a way of relating to the world, to God, to others, and to ourselves that includes a combination of actions, habit, ways of seeing and making judgments, as well as feelings…
”Loving, generous, and ever forgiving God, I thank you for the gift of forgiveness, for what you give to me from yourself, and for what you enable me to offer. Help me remember that I am a sinner and, when it comes to the business of learning how to forgive and love the people I will encounter today — Richard, my students, the person who gives me a hard time in the grocery store — this is good news. Please forgive what I cannot yet do myself. I ask these things in your own name, my God, you who in your love have promised to forgive us everything.”
—Roberta Bondi, A Place to Pray
|Beach on Iona - MMH|
I’m guessing that if each of us held on to every little irritant, slight, and perceived wrong, within a few days, we could easily wind up with more gravel than a person can carry...So, somewhere along the way we’ve go to find the capacity to let go. But how do we do that? For these little slights, I suggest three steps captured by the acronym RAP...Remember your own shortcomings, the little sins you regularly commit...the second step in letting go of the little things: assume the best of the person who has slighted you...the third step in letting go of the little things...pray for them and love them...Once you begin practicing the RAP method a lot, it can almost become a game — assuming the best of those who throw pebbles at you and finding ways to return blessings. In the process, you can avoid being caught up in anger or irritation, and, every once in a while, the blessings you return might just have a remarkable impact on the pebble thrower.
—Adam Hamilton, Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go
· Do you stumble over the “as we forgive those” part of the Lord’s Prayer? Do you use it in your own practice of forgiveness?
· How do you practice forgiveness of people in your life? What barriers are there? How do you feel afterwards?