We are an Easter People who remember, we are also dust. We are both and. Because we are both and, we must see the reality, the humanity of those who suffer, as our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the reality Jesus reveals to us with the stories of the Good Samaritan, with the healing of the ten lepers when only one comes back to give thanks. We are to offer forgiveness and mercy irrespective of whether or not it is deserved or asked.
It brings me to the hard reality, who do we not want to see in Heaven? Who do we not want to open the door and invite us in? Who do we assign to Hell? Who do we insist should be there? Who do we not forgive? That’s the hard beauty of our faith –that we are called to forgive precisely when it is most hard. Forgiveness does not mean we will see each other as God sees each of us until the other side of the veil, only that we must extend what Christ does from the cross to those who respond and those who do not. We must in our hearts, place all the people we’ve wronged, and all the people who have wronged us, on the altar and beg God to bless them one hundred fold with graces.
This is not an easy task for any soul, but it is required of every one, if we would find ourselves surprised by the joy of heaven. It might be why purgatory takes so long. We need to stare at the Eucharist, into the heart of Christ, through the places we’ve pierced Him by our sins, until we stop seeing it from the outside. Naming those we would have to forgive –might help us understand the hardness of this essential reality we face:
Saint Stephen, of Saint Paul –for sanctioning his martyrdom. (wrath)
Saint Peter for denying Christ (cowardice)
Now, add whosoever it is that when you hear their name, you feel anger.
Add whatever cause others champion that makes you unhappy –pray for those people.
Add whatever sin you think unforgiveable.
Add those who have done that sin. Add the victims of those sins as well.
Add those who cannot forget. Add those who cannot yet forgive.
Pray for forgiveness for all of them, for the whole world, because the whole world is awash in wounds that we’ve done over time, and continue to do. Pray for mercy. Pray for forgiveness. Beg for peace.
It is the only way we will know these three things.
Have a blessed Lent.