And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.[a] 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us[b] and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.3 But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. 5 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be associated with them. 8 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.-Ephesians 4:32-5:8 NRSV
Forgiven And Forgiving
The first reading in today’s Mass is one that is very hard for many of us. Myself included. In writing to the Ephesians, St. Paul tells them to be tenderhearted and to forgive as they have been forgiven. It is a natural human reaction to set up a defense against those who have wronged us in someway.
Sometimes this is where we stop reflecting and begin justifying our actions. Again, I am also writing to myself. I challenge all of us to take this reflection a step further and turn it around a little. Think of all the things you have done wrong in your life. Of you are like me then you will have no shortage of material to work with here. Then remember that all those horrible things you have done were forgiven by Jesus Christ. He died for those sins that we committed, and likewise he died for the sins that others committed.
As we have been forgiven then we must also forgive others. Jesus himself says this in the very prayer that he taught us. Every Mass we pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Sure it is hard, but as Christians we are called to a higher standard. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget as that would not be prudent. We still have a responsibility to protect ourselves, but forgiving is healing for us. It helps us get rid of anger and that makes room for grace. Grace changes things. Is there someone who hurt you (there is)? Pray for the grace and ability to forgive them. It may take time, but keep at it.
Live As Children Of Light
In the last sentence of today’s reading St. Paul challenges us to live as children of light. Forgiveness is part of that as is a life that is changed. Grace changes us and those around should notice that. Responding to the grace that is provided to us on a daily basis is indeed lifechanging. When people see do they notice this change? Do they know you are a follower of Christ? My challenge to you is to reflect on these questions and answer them honestly.
That your enemies have been created is God’s doing; that they hate you and wish to ruin you is their own doing. What should you say about them in your mind? “Lord be merciful to them, forgive them their sins, put the fear of God in them, change them!” You are loving in them not what they are, but what you would have them to become. -St. Augustine
Forgetting offences is a sign of sincere repentance. If you keep the memory of them, you may believe you have repented but you are like someone running in his sleep. Let no one consider it a minor defect, this darkness that often clouds the eyes even of spiritual people.-St. John Climacus
He who seeks forgiveness of his sins loves humility, but if he condemns another he seals his own wickedness.-St. Mark the Ascetic
The sign of sincere love is to forgive wrongs done to us. It was with such love that the Lord loved the world.-St. Mark the Ascetic
During mental prayer, it is well, at times, to imagine that many insults and injuries are being heaped upon us, that misfortunes have befallen us, and then strive to train our heart to bear and forgive these things patiently, in imitation of our Savior. This is the way to acquire a strong spirit.-St. Philip Neri