From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris For October 28, 2018

Last week we looked at many of the misconceptions and errors regarding forgiveness and reconciliation. With those out of the way, we can take a deeper look at what we are called to do. In fact, not only are we called to it, but we bind ourselves to the work of forgiveness each time we pray the Our Father. We condition the forgiveness of our sins by how we forgive the sins of others.

Forgiveness has many aspects, but we have been looking at it from the aspect of a release from debt. When people sin against us, they owe us something in return for the damage done and the offense given. This is straightforward, simple justice.

The problem arises, though, because we can never truly make up for what has happened. First, we can’t go back in time to change what we did; the damage has been done and we can’t go back and fix it. Second, sin has compounding effects. We have all heard stories about children born with fetal alcohol syndrome; the sins of the mother will affect the child’s life for years. Even in regards to the host of mundane sins, do we really understand the depth and the breadth of the effects of sin?

Maybe greatest of all is the reality that each person is made in the image and likeness of God. This means that each and every person has indescribable dignity. To sin against that dignity places an absolutely unbearable burden on a person, a burden of justice that no one could ever fulfill.

Forgiveness is the work of releasing someone from that incredible burden. It is work because there is often emotional baggage that goes along with it. That being said, it is not about emotions. Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is a choice, an action you make. It can be done in private even; you don’t have to tell someone that you forgive them.

To forgive someone entails consciously making the act of will to forgive them. You can even say it out loud. It can be as simple as saying: “I forgive ‘so-and-so’ for ‘whatever it is they did.’ I forgive ‘so-and-so’ for the harm they caused me and my loved ones.” It can be simple or more elaborate, but it is as simple as that.

It can be helpful to surround it in prayer. It is good to pray for the grace to assist us in forgiving someone. We always need all the help we can get. It is also good to entrust the sinner to the Lord. Jesus is the only one who can truly fix the damage we have done and pay our debts. It is always good to call upon the grace of the Lord to help you forgive and to heal what has been damaged by sin.

If unforgiveness rears its ugly head again, we can repeat this process. This often happens when someone has grievously sinned against us. As we uncover the depths of the sin, say for example years of deception and abuse, and as we come to terms with exactly what someone has done against us, we can continue the work of forgiveness. The better we understand the sin, the more intentional we can be about our forgiveness.

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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