7LW: Forgive

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

FORGIVENESS is a full-circle claim. We know this from “forgive us as we forgive others.” Certainly, we wrestle with that. It is hard. Resentments, parents, bullies in school, coworkers, backstabbing, etc. How we navigate forgiveness is an ongoing process of grace: Christianity is only always about relationships and forgiveness is the healing of relationships with others and with God. We bring those relationships into Love. We can only love God by his grace and we can only love others when he helps. Further, we can only love others as we love ourselves. And so that means, somewhere deep inside, we must also forgive ourselves.

Sin is an autoimmune issue, we all have it, and we will all die from it: but it will manifest in each of us with unique symptoms. Confession is a healing thing – getting all our sins out in the open, all of our brokenness. God gives us forgiveness and absolution. We can live in that grace and begin our healing process – healing from the universal sickness that is sin, as well as from the particular manifestations of that sickness in our individual lives. Those symptoms may always form identical patterns leading to death, but they are always unique to the person.

The odd reality is that the symptoms of our shared autoimmune disease are literally what God uses to draw us to him. In fact, God uses everything to draw us to him. Let me rephrase. It’s not odd. It’s God. Grace is what God uses to draw us via our shared autoimmune disease to himself.

Forgiveness – of ourselves – is the healing process that lets us see that God was not using some of our past: God was using all of our past. We need to admit first that it was a sinful past, yes. Then we need to let baptismal grace wash over our eyes as we look to see clearly that even when we thought we were running away, God was drawing us to him. Even when we screamed and kicked, God held on.

Seeing God’s process of socializing us, if you will, into the kingdom of heaven, we can begin to see that we were – by his grace – cooperating with him. Yes, we need to repent and confess those sins. But we also need to realize that no one loves evil because it’s evil. We were loving too much the wrong things – but we were loving. God used the love we understood to draw us to the love we needed, the love we craved, to the Love that is God. And so, while none of it was (or even, yet, is) perfect we can forgive ourselves because God has done so.

I would not be me but for where I’ve been.

No understanding of where I’ve been can exclude sin. It was not enough: not good enough, not the highest love, not the purest way to walk. It was not the walk of Christ. But it was the walk of a Christian. God was drawing me to himself.

We are tempted to draw a picture of a Christian’s life as if there are two parts: one before conversion and one after. However, the bread of the Eucharist still has gluten, calories, starch, nutritional value, color, taste both before and after consecration. Only now it is God. All the things that go into a Christian’s life are still there only now God. And since God is beyond time in some grace-filled way a Christian’s life is suddenly all God.

So forgiveness. Forgive us as we forgive. Let us forgive others as we forgive ourselves.

You didn’t know God. You walked contrary to him. You do not do so any longer and – somehow – that contrary walk was what brought you to him.

So forgive yourself.

Thank God.

Make the bread of your past life.

Into the Eucharist you offer.

It is broken.

But in Yeshua

It is whole.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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