Our beloved Pope Francis gave his first Angelus on the theme of forgiveness, focusing mainly on the inexhaustible and all-encompassing forgiveness that our Lord gives. His beautiful homily did not only remind me of how much God loves me but also made me reflect on my own attitude towards forgiveness.
While all of us feel grateful for the mercy and forgiveness that we readily receive from God, offering our forgiveness to others still does not come easy for most of us. Unlike our compassionate and forgiving God, we don’t naturally overflow with mercy, grace and forgiveness. Some people even spend their lives harboring hatred for those that have done them wrong.
However, God counsels us to forgive our fellow men in the same way that He has forgiven all our wrong doings. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
And while it is very clear in the Bible that the Lord’s grace and mercy is unconditional and not based on one’s forgiving others, this verse makes it clear that the Lord cannot fully free us from our inequities unless we free ourselves from the hatred that we are harboring against other people. Forgiveness is a gift; and when we forgive others we give this gift not only to them but to ourselves as well.
Read about one’s woman’s experience with harboring hatred and forgiving others in this post: “Forgiveness.”