From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris For November 11, 2018

To finish up on the topic of forgiveness (for now), we’re going to step back to the notion of forgiveness being the forgiving of a debt. When someone sins against us, they have put themselves in debt to us. Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, sin is a violation of the image of God. That is no small thing, even if the particular sin is in relative terms a small sin. It is a serious debt.

The work of forgiveness is about releasing someone from the debt they owe us. It is an incredible act of mercy towards the person. Who could ever truly repay a violation of our God-given dignity? It is an impossibility. Forgiveness, therefore, becomes one of the ways we participate in the work of God in setting free those bound in shackles of sin and death.

To not forgive, though keeps the other person stuck in this position, and, likewise, it keeps us stuck. If we are always expecting the repayment of a debt that is impossible to repay, we can never move on, we can never know the true freedom that God wants us to have. There will always be a debt hanging out there that will never be collected. If we allow that to shape our lives, we will always be frustrated.

Our only way out of this cycle is forgiveness. It takes courage to do this, which is why it takes the grace of God. Jesus had to die on the Cross for our sins to be forgiven, which should give you some sense of how serious this business is. It takes a lot to forgive someone.

Forgiving someone, though, sets us free and opens us up to the power of God to transform our lives. The future becomes full of possibilities because our lives are no longer weighed down by debts that will never be paid. Think for a moment about prisons. The convicts are definitely the ones confined in prison, but aren’t the guards also in prison? Sure, they get to go home at night (or morning, depending on the shift), but a large portion of their lives are stuck in prison as well. How much better would their lives be if they weren’t stuck in prison?

Something similar is true for the work of forgiveness. We no longer have to stand guard waiting for a debt to never be paid. We are free to go and live life to the fullest. The work of forgiveness is as much for us as it is for the other person. As we do the hard work of forgiveness, it can be helpful to keep our eyes on this prize as well. We need forgiveness, both to receive and to give, as much as the next person.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
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