Send away

light2nationsIn our Pentecost Sunday gospel, as noted in this week’s post, to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room on that first Easter evening Jesus first words were: “Peace be with you.” His second words were: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  His thirds words were “Receive the Holy Spirit.” His fourth words were: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  (John 20:23)

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A lifetime of practice

Forgiveness is one of those fundamental lessons we try to teach our kids from an early age: when siblings bicker or hurt each other, or if friends break a toy. And at the same time, we should ever be aware that we have not exactly mastered the art of forgiveness. The ability to forgive is a learning experience that often takes a lifetime. It’s not easy, but perhaps it’s not meant to be easy. Showing compassion and understanding in a world through which we cautiously pass takes an open heart instead of the guarded one we often carry. Continue reading

Forgiving: a work in progress

Today’s thoughts were occasioned by a Mass for the school children of St. Francis of Assisi School in Triangle, VA

Forgive us our sins as we forgive others” – that’s what it says in the Gospel. Those are the words of the Lord’s prayer, also called the “Our Father.”  In the first reading St. Paul says, “Forgive anyone who does you wrong just as Christ has forgiven you.” Let’s review… Christ has forgiven us and so we forgive others… pretty straight forward … this should be easy!

So… if someone asks you to forgive them, how do you forgive them?

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The Gift of Forgiveness

Sometimes our Advent readings don’t seem very…well, in the Christmas spirit. But simply put, Advent is not Christmas. It is time of preparation. Advent lies between the celebration of the Seconding Coming of Christ at the end of time and the commemoration of the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. Think about that for a moment! It is a “path” that will lead one to think about sin, confession, penance, and preparation for Jesus, the great King’s coming. Get ready! But that preparation, especially, the gift of forgiveness, is a great joy and is bundled up in the Christ child at Christmas. Continue reading

Forgiveness, gardens, and hard work

How do you offer forgiveness? I suspect that the most common offer consists of “I forgive you” or “Don’t worry about” “Don’t give it a second thought” or “It’s nothing.” And that all might be true, but sometimes it is only the socially-expected response. It is what we do because we are Christian and we are called to forgive 70 times 7 – or about 490 times…and maybe, just maybe, some of us keep track. But, are we really at peace with our response? Continue reading

Be Forgiving

Forgive him (or her)? Forgive myself? How could God forgive me? These are all questions we have asked ourselves at some point. We who were raised in the Christian tradition in which forgiveness is intrinsic to our faith. We, who as children, freely asked for and so easily received forgiveness. Sometime between our childhood and our teen/adult years, we learned to savor and recall moments of hurt or regret. Regrets that continue to haunt us and enter our lives, our dreams unwelcomed. Memory of hurt too often recalled, nursed, leading to thoughts of how such egregious actions can be balanced out in an uncaring universe. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Sounds like a quote from a Shakespearean tragedy, but it is all too modern, a blithe saying speaking to something as old as humankind. Continue reading

The Gift of Forgiveness

The First Sunday of Advent readings might strike you as somewhat odd. The don’t seem very…well, in the Christmas spirit. Perhaps it helps to consider where Advent falls on the liturgical calendar for the Church. It is immediately preceded by the Solemnity of Christ the King and followed by the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). Advent lies between the celebration of the Seconding Coming of Christ at the end of time and the commemoration of the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often to prepare for the Second Coming at the end of time, while also commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. With the view of directing the thoughts of Christians to the first coming of Jesus Christ as Savior, and to his second coming as Judge, special readings are prescribed for each of the four Sundays in Advent. Continue reading

Forgiving: Why aren’t I any good at it?

Think about each time we pray the Our Father. We renew our baptismal covenant vows to God and this Christian life: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In the Greek, the language used is a tense used for orders or commands. In other words, we are “ordering” God to forgive us only to the degree we forgive others. Yikes! When I think about it, I am soooo… tempted to pray, “Forgive me my trespasses a lot more than I seem to be able to forgive others” – and I will use the subjective mood indicating a plea or request. Otherwise, consider what might ensue if God in his mercy chose to forgive me only as fully as I have forgiven others. Continue reading

The burden of forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of those fundamental lessons we try to teach our kids from an early age: when siblings bicker or hurt each other, or if friends break a toy. And at the same time, we should ever be aware that we have not exactly mastered the art of forgiveness. The ability to forgive is a learning experience that often takes a lifetime. It’s not easy, but perhaps it’s not meant to be easy. Showing compassion and understanding in a world through which we cautiously pass takes an open heart instead of the guarded one we often carry. Continue reading

Pentecost: forgiveness

Pentecost3“Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Many scholars see a parallel between v.23 and Matthew 18:18: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The parallel becomes clearer when we know that the words “forgive” in John 20:23 are the Greek words aphiēmi and krateō which mean “send away” and “hold” respectively [EDNT 2:314]. But even with the parallels aside, the meaning, extent and exercise of the Matthean and Johannine powers has been a source of division with the post-Reformation Christian community. Continue reading