When we have hurt someone and know we should ask for forgiveness the words are hard to say that I am sorry. I ask for your forgiveness. The grace to forgive is a special grace given to us by God. We need to always remember that it is God who forgives because every sin offends God. We ask forgiveness from the one we hurt, but it is God who is granting grace to that person that allows them to say I forgive you.
There is a sense of relief receiving that forgiveness. People experience this sense of relief when they leave the confessional. Or, when married couples resolve an argument, they experience that grace that comes from God. Or, when families reconcile after bitter divisions have separated them for years, we experience the grace from God.
The first reading today: “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.” With the experience of relief that God grants us in forgiveness, why do we hug wrath and anger? Can it be that we do not want to reconcile? Wrath and anger cause great stress in our lives. These two sins are sins that are personal. We develop a personality that says we are not good. Everyone takes advantage of me. As this stress increases, we start to lash out at everyone, creating a division even with people we love. We have all met people who seem to be angry all the time. As a people who are made by God to be communal, we find ourselves staying away from angry people. There is an old saying, “Misery loves company.” It means that miserable people have separated themselves from others and they would love to be with anyone else that is miserable. This does not sound overly exciting.
Some people have been dreadfully hurt. And they live with this pain and suffering every day. When you are in this situation, and the one who hurt you asks for forgiveness more than ever you need God’s grace to offer that kind of forgiveness. Even just to say I forgive you is almost impossible. Perhaps this is where we take a lesson from Jesus on how He forgave the people who hurt Him. Jesus did not look at his torturers and say I forgive you. He did not look at each Pharisee and say I forgive you. He did not look at each of His followers and say I forgive you. No, Jesus looked to heaven and said, “Father, forgive them. They know what they do.” There are times and situations in our lives when we cannot say the words, we can ask God to do what we cannot. God is all loving and all forgiving. We were not made that way. True, we will want to work toward that kind of love. But in the meantime, give those who hurt you over to God. Pray God will forgive them. Then trust in God’s decision.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen