Wednesday, November 28, 2018

FORGIVENESS by MARY ANN DOWD


Prayer: Lord your Cursillistas gathered before you this day ask for courage-the courage to live out in our daily lives the faith we profess with our lips.  Amen

I want you to close your eyes and think of one thing-your first love.  When you fell in love you wanted to know everything about that person.  What makes him or her happy what are the joys sorrows and most of all how to please that person.  Well, the author of those feelings, God, is no exception.  The most amazing love that we can imagine is exactly how God loves us.  Beyond our wildest dreams and he holds nothing back from his beloved.  One of the first commands he gave us was Love to "Love one another as I have loved you"....there is no greater love than this to lay down your life for your friend."   Isn't that what we do when we forgive the hurt that someone has caused us.  We  put aside our "self-love" for sacrificial love "Christ-like love"

Now it is very important to say right here and right now that the first forgiveness is reserved for ourselves-- we cannot go beyond ourselves to forgive another until we are able to internalize the realization that God forgives us as long as we are truly sorry for our sins and avail ourselves of the sacrament of reconciliation. 

"Our Father - forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"  When we sin against God we are trespassing against our own souls.  forgive yourself as HE forgives you.  In this way we free ourselves to go beyond ourselves to forgive others.

Our Lord doesn't ask us to be complicit in sin and error.  Listen to what He said:  "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."  This prayer may seem overly simple at first glance but think about it.  He is asking His Father to bless them because they truly did not know what they were doing.  Do we?  Think about it-does any one of us REALLY know what we are doing when we sin.  I am talking about the true cost of offending God?  If the agony in the garden, the scourging and the crucifixion came to mind every-time we sinned, would we still persist in our sin?  It was very deliberate on my part not to talk about all the repercussions of sin: (All the Jewish Babies are Crying.)  Sin and its aftermath of destruction is very real and present in our world today but for every evil there is also a very real way out that God has provided to us.

No, only God knows the true cost because only HE paid the price. When we pray for our enemies we are placing them in His hands and only God can do what is best for the salvation of their souls.  The souls HE loved and died for so only HE can know the true disposition of that soul.  When we turn it over to God we are truly praying for our enemies.

This was the whole reason Jesus left the glory and perfection of heaven to come to earth to suffer and die for each and everyone.  Even the most unlovable.  He came not only to die but to live as the perfect model of the perfect human being.  Jesus' words: "I am the Way the Truth and the Life....come follow me."

"As we measure out to others so shall it be measured to us"

Lord how many times should I forgive 7 times?  Seventy times 7 times.  Or, in other words every single time we are offended.  Again Jesus is not only telling us how to live but revealing Himself to His beloved.  This is why I believe that true forgiveness is a sure arrow straight to the heart of God.    Forgiveness, my dear brothers and sisters is a MASTER CLASS IN JESUS CHRIST. 

Every night before we go to bed, we should make an examiniation of conscience and then ask Our Lord to forgive us.  He told us to forgive 70 times 7 times He revealed His Great Mercy so of course He will forgive you.  If we die that night we go straight to HIS loving Arms and if not he gives us another chance each day to begin again not to offend.  How can we then deny that to our brothers and sisters when it is so important to the one we love?  

He was our first love and he will be our last.  The Alpha and the Omega.  And yet, we put all kinds of qualifications on forgiving others.  Jesus told us not only to forgive but to pray for our enemies...Pray for them...surely Jesus doesnt expect us to pray for  the boss who treated my husband so unfairly, the corrupt politician? The couple who cheated us in business? and especially not those horrible terrorists-- pray for them?  The very people who are persecuting Christians, destroying their shrines and antiquities and murdering them in the most horrific manners.  Do you know who I just described to you St Paul, the patron Saint of Cursillo.  Jesus forgave him for he knew not what he was doing.  Perhaps it was the prayers of St. Stephen, as he was being martyred, that saved Saul and made him a Saint.  The very Saint we Cursillistas invoke every time we gather.

"Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Now here is even a harder truth about forgiveness to think about.  We are all familiar with the commission of the apostles to forgive sins when Jesus said:

"whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven-whose sins you shall retain they are retained."

There are two ways to look at this statement God gave to his priests the power to forgive sins in the sacrament of Penance.  When we go to confession and the priest administers the grace of the Sacrament we have the assurance of the words spoken from Our Lord, HIMSELF, from HIS own lips that we are forgiven.  I realize many of you are familiar with the story of St. Margaret Mary who explained to her confessor that Our Lord was appearing to her -- the doubtful priest asked her to ask Our Lord what the mortal sin was that he had confessed the week before in confession.  The dutiful nun did ask Jesus about this and when she returned to her confessor he asked her....well did you ask Jesus about my sin and what did HE tell you.  To this question Margaret Mary said yes Father I asked Jesus what the mortal sin was that you had confessed and Jesus responded: "I forgot".  At this response her confessor realized that the apparitions were authentic.

This is perhaps the most telling of all the truths of God on forgiveness--that HE not only forgives us but "forgets" our transgressions:   The Sacred Scripture says:  "As far as the east is from the west so far will HE put our transgressions from us"  --"though your sins may be as scarlet HE will wash them white as snow!" 

Could any news that we poor sinners receive be any better than this.  To have true contrition for our sins and confess them and receive the Grace of the Sacrament!  If there is a better way to get to heaven I beg you to let me know.  God's goodness is so good that we have a hard time to take this into our hearts and soul and dear brothers and sisters we must, under grave consequence take this great truth into our hearts.

This great marriage of forgiveness and forgetfulness is not false humility but simply an imitation of Christ.  As Christians we are called very simply to imitate Christ.  There is a direct correlation between our ability to forgive and attaining eternal happiness in heaven.  The Master class in Jesus Christ.  (masters degree, drive, focus-hard work-persistence great accomplishment) God in HIS Great Mercy has provided a very simple way for us to be with Him both in our earthly journey as well as our eternal life.  "Forgive one another as I have forgiven you".  How often have we prayed at the foot of the cross thanking Our Lord for His great love that washed away our sins but where do we draw the line.

It is true that evil deeds committed against us are sinful but so are all the sins for which Jesus gave HIS last breath on the cross.  Jesus did not ask us to be complicit in sin but to forgive the offense and not hold it against the person so to free ourselves and allow the sinner to be able to avail themselves and us of the Mercy of God.

Probably one of the hardest ideas to understand is that God didn't have to shed HIS last drop of blood to save the world.  We have heard this many times. So why did He?  Yes, because of the great weight of sin, yes because of HIS great Love and because of both of these things, he wanted to teach us....  How God looks at sin and forgiveness.  If Jesus had not come to teach and to save there would be no way for us to gain eternal life.  This is a frightening thought perhaps the scariest realization ever.
The consequence of Our Lord's death and the unimaginable love with which HE forgives and forgets was done only to show us how to forgive and forget.  Love one another as...............

If we can by God's Grace forgive those who have hurt us and if even more so we can ask God for the Grace to forget even the most hurtful of transgression because we love Our Lord is that it?    There is yet one more saying of the Scripture to contemplate and this is of utmost importance please think about this very carefully:  whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven and those you shall retain they are retained...whose sins you shall retain they are retained...  These are not words of a great theological translator or Doctor of the Church.  They were spoken from Christ's own lips and give us not just the power to hold our brothers and sister's bound in their sins but if I read the text correctly, in a very real sense, they tie God's hands, so to speak, we are saying we deny God's Mercy to that person.  Now follow me in this.  I am not suggesting that this person cannot be forgiven by God if they are truly repentant.  But by binding them in their sin within our own heart, we are binding ourself to the unforgiveness by refusing to forgive.  So in our stubborn unforgiveness, we in a very real sense, are doing great harm to our soul.  "Forgive us "as we forgive" those who sin against us".  We are making ourselves "prisoners" of our own unforgiveness.  "forgive us as we forgive"  At our Ultreya a few weeks ago we shared what forgiveness and unforgiveness means to us personally.  One of the very inciteful answers was "when we refuse to forgive its like taking poison and expecting someone else to die from it.  Another said forgiving is setting ourselves free and another that forgiveness is not about us.  How true forgiveness is not about us but truly about the one Who made us.  It is a master class in Jesus Christ.

This was the lesson of Christ's life and death "come follow me" not just when its easy and please don't misunderstand following Jesus is not easy(God knows it is not easy)  but it is simple.  Look at what He did how He lived His life that's the whole point.  Today we are looking at a truth about Jesus that is not easy but infinitely simple.  Forgive one another which is just another way to say love one another as I have loved you.  When we forgive as Jesus did we set ourselves free because we give our enemy up to God's Mercy.  It is probably one of the most liberating things we can do for ourselves and our brothers and sisters.  Jesus said He has come that we may have life and have it abundantly.  The generosity of forgiveness is not only a gift we give our brothers and sisters but it is a gift to ourselves and Jesus wants us to be good to ourselves because He loves us so much.

DeColores!