Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
This is so difficult – yet it is at the heart of the prayer Jesus taught us.
Some have been hurt so badly and so deliberately and maybe for so long. We seek forgiveness too from those we have hurt or let down, but sometimes we can’t – whether because the person is now dead or contact has been broken, or they may not want to see us.
On the Cross, Jesus prayed “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do” – though the soldiers knew exactly what they were doing at one level. As we discover we are forgiven and loved so we can discover the capacity to let go hate, or revenge; we can begin to describe ourselves as a wounded child of God not just a victim. But this is a lifelong healing process, a painful journey, not a glib couple of sentences.
Each of us must make the journey for ourselves, and for some it is much much more painful and difficult.
And it is important to know that Jesus does not expect us to condone wrong-doing or pretend it does not matter.
There is a dangerously glib saying – “Hate the sin but love the sinner”, and there is some truth in this but it is dangerously simplistic.
We should aspire to the forgiveness that Jesus offered, and we should practice forgiveness, and the letting go of grudges and envy or whatever it is.
For some maybe we need to be challenged to seek forgiveness where we have failed to do what we could, failed to give what we could, like the priest and scribe we may have crossed over to the other side of the road, to avoid having to deal with the needy.
And where we cannot offer forgiveness and hear it accepted, we can only take that deep sadness and regret to God in prayer.
God knows our heart, just as we see and hear the heart of God on the Cross –
God knows your heart and forgiveness is deep down between you and God. Forgiveness between people often involves tears, and seeking forgiveness and receiving forgiveness from God may also be painful and tearful. God weeps for us and weeps for the sorrows we feel and cause, and weeps to restore us to a right relationship with himself.
This is lifelong and profound – May God’s Spirit guide us in our thinking and reflection in this area, and may we seek God’s peace and healing and wait on it too.
Thank you, Jesus, that you know me at my deepest, and you love me deeply.