(Wednesday, December 27)
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mk 11:25-26)
It’s easy to misunderstand the above-quoted passage, as if God withholds His forgiveness of us, in order to punish us for not forgiving. But God never withholds forgiveness; His forgiveness is always flowing abundantly towards us, if we can imagine forgiveness as a kind of divine energy or grace.
*We* are the ones who block His grace, when we close our hearts to forgiveness, when we ourselves are un-forgiving. I need to forgive myself and others, letting go of my list of “Yes, but-s…,” and “Should have-s,” so I can “stand praying” before God as I am, His beloved child, among countless other beloved children of God. I can then receive the unconditional, divine love being offered to me, all the time. I am loved, very much so. And forgiven. So are the rest of the imperfect people I know.
This is hard to accept, because we tend not to dare love ourselves or God enough. But when I let God’s unconditional love for us sink in, I can begin to forgive myself and others, and stand up straight before our loving, forgiving Father. I need not hide from God, as Adam and Eve did in the bushes, after their “fall.” I rather jump to meet the Lord, as Peter did after his “fall,” when the risen Lord appeared on the shore of Lake Tiberias (Jn 21). And the only thing Christ asked Peter about was love; He did not demand an apology. Peter is “restored” by being reminded of, and dignified with, his own love for the Lord. And He assures Peter of His unbroken love for him, by entrusting the Apostle to “take care of” and “feed” His “sheep” and “lambs.” Let us love God, ourselves, and one another, as He loves us, that we may take care of ourselves and others, in the light and lightness of forgiveness.