Today’s Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48
For those of us who have been sinned against — and who hasn’t been sinned against, tormented, or abused — this is one of the hardest teachings to embrace: to forgive and to pray for the offender’s repentance. This I think of as redemptive charity; it is a different kind of suffering-through.
Charity (love) is the primary virtue; “Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues” (CCC1826) and “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony'” (CCC1827).
In the little sins of every day offenses, we can usually gather ourselves up and be charitable, praying our way through to forgive the offender, and that they repent and maybe apologize.
But in the big sins, those that harm our soul and crush our spirit, how do I love as Jesus did? Can I even be made “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” this side of Heaven? And this is the rub. To love as Jesus loved means to be healed, whole, and holy.
We heal as we are able to pray for the soul of the one(s) who have harmed and sinned against us. The memory of the offense may remain—and usually does, with the hurt possibly being re-experienced—and that is a blessing in that we do not allow the person to sin against us again. We remind them, through our very presence and the boundaries we set, and pray with salvific charity that in their due time they to come to repentance.
To love as Jesus did, as God does, is “to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away” (CCC 1825). And good neighbors have good fences.
It has been said that we will never look into the eyes of someone God does not love. How will that thought change how you look upon those who have harmed you?
Heavenly Father, help me find the courage to forgive those who have harmed me, and in charity to pray that they repent. Help me to embrace that you love them, and that all of us who sin are loved and desired for heaven. Amen
Copyright 2019 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB
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