Have you ever wondered what the difference was between St. Peter and Judas? Both of them betrayed Jesus, yet only one sought out forgiveness and became a great leader and shepherd of the Church. Only one was humble enough to approach the Lord after the Resurrection and meekly say, “I do believe, Lord.” And Jesus forgave him by asking him three times, “Do you love me?”
The power to ask forgiveness is not talked about much in the news these days. People yell and scream at each other, nobody apologizes. We hurt someone’s feelings, nobody apologizes. People think it’s their right to say what they want, to kill with words or guns and it’s their right to free speech and not worry about how it hurts another person. It’s almost like apologizing has become like a plague we must avoid. It would mean we were wrong, that we have to lower ourselves, demean ourselves, and God forbid, admit we might have been wrong.
Yet when nobody apologizes, we die inside. Little by little we become hardened and our souls darken, getting dirtier, and it gets easier to do more wrongs and be more hurtful.
Do we think we have to beg to receive mercy? All Peter did was answer Jesus’ question, the same question three different times asked by Jesus: “Peter, do you love me?”
It does take humility to be forgiven or to ask forgiveness. It takes even more fortitude and heart to forgive someone who hasn’t even said they were sorry, yet Jesus did that too right from the cross. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Some people do it too, without asking for an apology, without closing their hearts. They just forgive, because that’s what Jesus did. Corrie ten Boom forgave her jailers in the concentration camp, the very Nazis who were responsible for her sister’s death and her torture. Yet somehow she knew she must forgive because healing was linked to forgiveness. And Jesus had forgiven her sins.
Do we think we are better than Jesus when we don’t ask forgiveness, when we don’t forgive someone who has hurt us deeply? Forgiveness is an action that has ramifications far beyond how it makes us feel. It’s like ripples in a pond when someone forgives another person. It’s like the sun shining out following a tornado, or a bright colorful rainbow peeking out from the storm clouds to signal to the entire world that God is there and everything is okay. Because someone forgave, and someone said they were sorry.
Copyright 2019 Lisa Simmons