Tag Archives: forgiveness

Forgiving is relatively easy…

Forgive and forget; that’s what we’re usually advised to do when we’ve fallen out with someone, right? Well here’s my unsolicited verdict: forgiving is relatively easy. Forgetting? Not so much. I can remember numerous instances from close to two decades ago where I got into a heated altercation with someone, exchanged a few blows here and there (as a child I had violent tendencies)… Point is, I forgave and forgot, moved on even, but I still remember what went down then.

So that makes me wonder, does it mean I don’t abide by the general rule? To forgive and forget? My priest in church sought to shed some light on the confusing issue. Basically, we forgive but in most cases we don’t forget. As human beings we’re programmed to remember things, unlike fish for instance, which can only remember things for an estimated five months.

What happens is, we don’t forget; at least not that much. What matters is how we relate with people who’ve offended us and who we purport to have forgiven. If we’re unable to talk with them, then that means we haven’t forgiven them yet. If we keep bringing up the same issue every time we disagree on something, then that means we’re still holding a grudge against them.

Simply put, when one has forgiven another for something wrong they did, that particular issue becomes a closed file. If ever it comes up in future discussions, it shouldn’t be an emotive matter that makes the concerned parties seem like ticking time bombs waiting to go off.

From my own understanding, it’s the intention to consider that person forgiven that matters. For instance, a guy cheats on his girlfriend with her best friend. The way I see it, in such situations, it takes utmost strength for the lady to forgive the promiscuous boyfriend (or vice versa) and the perfidious friend. But as we know it, some actually forgive. It’s almost impossible to forget the pain, but as the old adage goes, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’.

In reality, it would be impossible for someone who’s been hurt that much to forget the pain they felt. In this case, forgetting would be for one not to act on that pain and the anger. It’s not an easy thing, but that’s the best thing if one wants to have a healthy future; one that’s not marred by grudges.

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Do not let your anger lead you into sin

Frustrated man isolated on white

“There’s good anger and bad anger. If you’re driving and a traffic officer finds some non-existent fault with your driving skills or your car, then goes ahead to ask for bribe so he can let you off the hook without getting the concerned authorities involved, if you didn’t get angry there would clearly be something wrong with you. Or if you saw injustice being perpetrated and didn’t get angry, then there would definitely be something so wrong with you.” These were my priest’s sentiments during mass a couple of Sundays ago, and I couldn’t agree more with him.

For starters, life is not perfect, and for that simple reason, it would be practically impossible to always be happy. Nonetheless, anger becomes a sin or just frowned upon when in anger, someone goes and does something so appalling. For instance, a man may find his wife in bed with another man. To any reasonable person, the husband –in such a situation- has all the right to get angry.

However, even in that moment of extreme anger, he should take some time to calm down, so he doesn’t do something that might have the law qualify his right to freedom; when he’s apprehended and subsequently incarcerated for doing something atrocious in the heat of passion, say killing the wife or the other guy.

In reality, there are many people who have found themselves in such undesirable circumstances. I always wonder; when the anger has subsided and someone realizes they did something so dreadful, do they wish they could turn back the hands of time, so they could do things differently? Personally, I know there are many times I’ve done things in anger, which I’ve regretted a lot.

There are a few bible phrases on anger, which I always keep referring to: for instance, Ephesians 4: 26 – “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day”. This, in my understanding, means one can get angry but they shouldn’t go to bed with the anger in their hearts.

An instrument of peace

Lord make me an instrument of peace

‘These must be the end days talked about by John in the book of Revelations’. This is the thought that comes to mind everytime I hear about some disturbing occurrence in some part of the world: the war between Israel and Gaza, earthquakes and landslides, life threatening diseases…

That thought, which mostly feels like fear is further heightened by the moral decay in the society; most of the things we do today are what led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely, we’re not special than those people who lost their lives in previous Biblical ‘Armageddons’. If we do the things they did, then we’re bound to suffer the same fate.

For this reason, when I hear of people dying in masses I just imagine God is just angry. He is slow to anger but I’m thinking, if we don’t make any effort to correct our bad deeds, He gets angry eventually. He loves us unconditionally and equally (doesn’t have favourites), but that does not mean He is permissive.

God’s greatest desire is for us all to love each other and to live in peace. But the defiant human beings we are, we continue to fight, perpetrating war and hatred; everything God hates. Countless lives have been lost because of wars that could have been prevented.

Not all of us have been to, or live in any of the warring nations I keep hearing about on the news everyday, but we have been involved in at least one fight. Heavy artilleries don’t have to be used for it to be termed a war. It could even be something petty; say picking a fight with a neighbour because their dog backs too loud…etc. Point is we have in one way or another been involved in a fight.

Question is, as an individual, what role do/did you play in that fight? Were you a mediator or a perpetrator? Did you help end the fight or you only added coal to the fire?

‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there’s hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there’s doubt faith,
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant me that I may not so much seek:
To console, as to be consoled
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.’

The above is a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which embodies his simplicity and poverty. According to Father Kajetan Esser, OFM, the author of the critical edition of St. Francis’ writings, the peace prayer is most certainly not one of the writing of St. Francis.

This prayer, according to Father Schulz, first appeared during the First World War. It was found written on a holy card that had a picture of St. Francis. The prayer bore no name; but because of the card it came to be known as the Peace prayer of St. Francis.

The first time I read this prayer I was around seven years old. But when reading it, in my infantile mind it was just another prayer that had to be recited. At the time, mom was the one who was strictly enforcing our faith, seeing to it that we attended mass and prayed.

At some point, as I grew older, I stopped saying it; I’m not so sure why because I was still saying other prayers. It’s not until two or so years ago that I started saying it again. Unlike the first time I said it, this time I was pondering over every word; taking each word into consideration.

The words did not serve only as a prayer, but as a great piece to meditate on. It made me think about my life; when I’m dealing with other people, do I make them feel happy or do I just make them cry and feel bad about themselves; do I stop a fight or do I only aggravate things? Do I understand people, or I only seek to be understood?

I read each word, examining my conscience, and as I did so, I realized so many faults in my ways. On many occasions I had been selfish. Many are the times I had put my needs before others’; fighting because I only wanted others to understand why I had acted in a particular way; holding grudges because I was reluctant to forgive those who wronged me.

The prayer helps one reflect; what do we inspire in others? Love or hate? Forgiveness or vengeance? Hope or desperation? Sadness or joy? Do we only seek to be loved, rather than love others? Do we forgive, or like the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18: 21-35) we adamantly turn away those who seek our forgiveness? Do we only take without giving back?

Many fights start as small disagreements and eventually they graduate into full-fledged wars, because someone was too unwilling to forgive or understand; because someone was reluctant to love. It’s not too late to do something. We still have a chance to make things better; to prevent more loss of lives. Let’s live in peace.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi

corpus christi

Sunday, 22nd June, was the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), also called Corpus Domini. Naturally the feast is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but in places where the day is not a holy day of obligation, it is celebrated the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.

It is a feast celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and His real presence in the Eucharist. Bread and wine are consecrated, turning them into His body and blood. Visually, the bread still takes the form of bread and the wine still looks like red wine and tastes like wine. It is only by faith that faithful believe it is the actual body and blood.

Celebrating bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ is a rite that dates back in time, to Holy Thursday, during the Last Supper, where Jesus broke bread, blessed wine and shared it with His disciples, then asked them to continue with the rite in His memory. So essentially, when Christians eat His body and drink His blood, they follow His Command.

When we look back at the events that took place on Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, which was the principal event, sought of gets overshadowed by the others. For this reason, the feast of Corpus Christi was created to focus solely on the Holy Eucharist.

In 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17, Paul says, “The cup we use in the Lord’s Supper, and for which we give thanks to God: when we drink from it, we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ. Because there is one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”

Why was bread used to symbolize the body of Christ? Someone might ask. Couldn’t God have picked something fancier? Bread, as seen in the bible was used in many instances. Jesus used bread as a symbol of His body because it was affordable to many.

After Jesus fed the five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish (John 6: 1-13), they thought He was the prophet who was to come into the world. Afraid they would seize Him in order to make Him king by force, Jesus went off again to the hills by Himself.

When the people found Him the next day, He told them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry. He who believes in me will never be thirsty”. (John 6: 35). He goes on to say, “Your ancestors ate manna in the desert but they died. But the bread that comes from heaven is of such a kind that whoever eats it will not die.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. The bread that I will give him is my flesh, which I give so that the world may live.” (John 6: 49-51).

Someone might think that if the consecrated bread-Eucharist-is the body of Christ, then if someone was to have plenty of it, they would have more Jesus in them. That is not the case however. Each piece of the Eucharist weighs the same. It doesn’t matter how many pieces it’s broken into. The one who eats the full sacrament, hundreds of them, or just a tiny particle all consume the same amount.

Additionally, sharing the body of Christ doesn’t diminish Him. On the contrary, it unites all those who eat it, into one body. As he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I Live in Him.” (John 6: 56). Through sharing His body and blood we become one body in Christ.

consecration of bread and wine

God is able; through Him all things are possible. That is what the faithful believe. So if that’s the case, shouldn’t that make all who partake of His body and blood superhuman, able to do anything they want?

It is true; eating Christ’s body and drinking His blood empowers people. At the same time, one can’t just lie around and wait to perform tasks superhumanly. Eating the Eucharist follows the ‘faith without action is dead’ concept. One needs to work hard, doing what’s right; living by God’s commandments for the Eucharist to manifest itself fully. It’s all about faith.

Once a priest said in church that people who are mentally unstable-insane-are not given the sacrament because it would just be desecrated. I’m thinking the reasoning behind that is that they are not in the state of mind to believe the effect of the Eucharist in them, so it would be meaningless to let them have it.

It is God’s hope that we all live virtuously. He despises actions which undermine love; revenge for instance, and only encourages acts of kindness, forgiveness… if all those who partake of the Eucharist believe it is Christ’s body, then they should refrain from things that taint its sanctity; actions encouraged by the devil.

Christ taught us to forgive. It is human nature to err; and because of that, forgiveness becomes a vital necessity in life. If you are wounded, don’t take matters into your own hands, because that only kills love and encourages inhumane acts like terrorism, which have become so rampant nowadays, in the quest for vengeance. Instead, take your pain to the wounded healer and let Him take it away. Let Him avenge you.

Of mortality and forgiveness

Death serves as a constant reminder that this life we have is just a passing breeze. It’s only a temporary stopover to the main place; eternity. Not many believe in that but the faith I profess teaches about life after death. What we believe however, doesn’t change the fact that death is real. Whether we believe there is eternal life or not doesn’t stop people from dying. And each time someone we know or love crosses over to the other side we are reminded that we’re here only for a while.

Last Friday but one my big sister left for school. Minutes later, the doorbell rang. I was about to start saying my morning prayers when my small sister opened the door. It was our big sister. I didn’t know why she had suddenly come back. Curious, I went to see what the matter was. She had a horrified look on her face. At first I’d thought she had forgotten something or couldn’t get a bus to school so wanted me to drive her, but the patent fear on her face told me it was something more serious.

“You’ll want to sit down for this one,” she said.

My curiosity graduated to dread in an instant. Taking her advice, I sat down. I didn’t want to freak out but her body language bespoke fear that was almost tangible. “D is dead!” She blurted out, a palm pressed against her chest.

My small sister and I gasped in horror. “What?” We asked simultaneously.

“Are you sure it’s him?” We asked.

“It’s written on the noticeboard at the gate,” she replied, grief stricken.

When the shock wore off, my small sister stated crying. “I don’t believe it,” she said.

“But I saw him in church on Sunday and he looked happy and healthy,” I added. My sisters both agreed they saw him too and he didn’t appear ill. Minutes later, my big sister left for school. For close to an hour my small sister and I tried to guess what could have led to his sudden demise. He was a young man in his twenties, and though he and my small sister were once tight, they had long fallen out; at the time of his death we were not in good terms.

He and my sister started off as friends and after a while he told her he wanted her to be his girlfriend but my sister turned him down. She wasn’t ready to get in a relationship. The disappointment of my sister rejecting him sought of embittered him because anytime he saw any of my sisters, mom or me, he would start making snide comments about us with other guys, high-fiving and all. He was actually the one who inspired my post, ‘men in skirts’.

He ran a movie shop near the place we bought groceries. Everytime I went by to buy some vegetables, he would find something irritating to say about my hair extensions, or my weight; anything he knew would piss me. He always succeeded because I would always leave feeling so offended, breathing fast, fists clenched.

At one point I told my sisters I would give him a piece of my mind the next time he dared say anything about me. They warned me; that would be imprudent. Reluctantly, I gave heed to their words. I didn’t have the stomach for all the nastiness, so I chose to stop going there. Every one of my family stopped going there. The place we’d previously frequented became alien.

We were not sure avoiding him and his friends was the best choice but it felt better. We didn’t have much to complain about. Since we stopped going there, we didn’t know what he said about us, but everytime he saw us passing by, he would laugh so loud. I imagined he was doing that so we would think he was laughing at us. Maybe I was wrong. It was irritating, but we didn’t let it get to us.

Christianity teaches about forgiveness; but constantly, we wondered how we could forgive him given that he didn’t seem remorseful. Forgiveness and repentance go hand in hand. For one to be forgiven, they need to be ready to make amends for their shortcomings. He didn’t seem ready; we therefore opted to stay away from him.

Until the time of his death, we were not talking. I was never really friends with him, but my sister was. It tore me to bits to see her grieve over a man who spent his better days making her life and ours miserable.

“If we heard it was an April fool’s prank they forgot to take down and we found out he was alive, what would you do?” I asked her as she wept.

She took a while to reply, pondering over the question. “Nothing.”

“See. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to make peace with him. He just wasn’t ready for it.”

For forgiveness to work, the involved parties need to meet halfway. If one is forgiving someone that’s far, it is easier to forgive them in order to get some closure to some painful experience. But if the person one needs to make peace with is present, it’s difficult to mend fences if they are unwilling.

When we learned of his death, we wished everything had been okay between us; nonetheless, it’s easier said than done. Truth is even he were alive, there wasn’t much we could do, unless he also realized the need for us to reconcile.

Even so, I realized it’s good to be at peace with everyone. There’s no telling what tomorrow brings.

Eleventh station: Jesus is nailed to the cross

Eleventh station-Jesus is nailed to the cross

Reflection

It is hard to imagine a God being nailed to the cross by His own creatures. It is even more difficult for my mind to understand a love that permitted such a thing to happen! As those men drove heavy nails into Your hands and feet, dear Jesus, did You offer the pain as reparation for some particular human weakness?

Was the nail in Your right hand for those who spend their lives in dissipation and boredom?

Was the nail in Your left hand in reparation for all consecrated souls, who live lukewarm lives?

Were You stretching out Your arms to show us how much You love us?

As the feet that walked the hot, dusty roads were nailed fast, did they cramp up in a deadly grip of pain to make reparation for all those who so nimbly run the broad road of sin and self-indulgence?

Prayer

It seems, dear Jesus, Your love has held You bound hand and foot as Your heart pleads for a return of love. You seem to shout from the top of the hill, “I love you, come to me. See, I’m held fast, I cannot hurt you, only you can hurt me.”

How very hard is the heart that can see such love and turn away. Is it not true that I too have turned away when I did not accept the Father’s Will with love? Teach me to keep my arms ever open to love, to forgive and to render service; willing to be hurt rather than hurt, satisfied to love and not be loved in return.

Amen.