Sometimes we miss what is under our very noses. This is as true in the spiritual life as in all other spheres of life. Is it possible that there is something at the heart of our spiritual life that is both extremely important and at the same time is often missed? I think many will be surprised to discover that I am speaking about forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a familiar word to us all. Perhaps too familiar. We might well also be surprised at just how often we see the centrality of forgiveness in Scripture and in the life of the Church.
It’s interesting that forgiveness is at the heart of so many of the encounters between Jesus and the people he meets. Even when they come to him for healing he often first off tells them that their sins are forgiven.
Every time we come to Mass we begin by asking for forgiveness from God and each other. At the consecration of the Mass we hear the beautiful phrase ‘for the forgiveness of sins’, an always welcome reminder of the power of God’s love for us.
Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins. Yours. Mine. Ours.
We pray the Our Father, which has at its core the importance of forgiveness of each other.
By the time we finish Mass we leave the church at one with God and neighbour, forgiven.
Jesus on the Cross prays forgiveness. ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’
Clearly the message is, forgiveness is crucial. Forgiveness is central.
If we accept the importance of forgiveness it may well be that the absence of forgiveness is a greater problem than we realise. Lack of forgiveness has a variety of names including resentment, despair and revenge. Clearly lack of forgiveness means being out of good relationship with someone, be that another, or the Lord, or both.
However I think we can add something even more serious, namely that a lack of forgiveness in our lives, is actually an obstruction to God’s grace. Imagine that, that a reason we are not feeling God’s presence, is to some degree due to the toxic nature of unforgiveness.
I wonder is there a connection between some of the ills of our society and the lack of use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation? I wonder is violence, in society, in the home or indeed in our hearts connected with, or made worse by, the abandonment of Confession? Would regular confession have a bearing on despair and hopelessness?
If we look honestly and prayerfully into our hearts do we not discover a number of people whom we have not forgiven? Have we any idea the cost to ourselves and others of this lack of forgiveness? Is it not time to do something about this?
Spy Wednesday, the day Judas betrayed the Lord, this year is Wednesday April 8th. Here in our parish we will have a special Day of Forgiveness with Confessions / Sacrament of Reconciliation available all day.
It’s a great opportunity to come closer to the Lord.
Fraternally, Joe McD