IN HIS FOOTSTEPS
NO 9 July 2006
Scripture reading: Luke 6: 27-37
FORGIVENESS – THE CEMENT OF COMMUNITY LIFE
As we live and work together, it is very likely that we will hurt each other at some point. A thoughtless remark, a nasty reply, a moment of pride, a clashing of egos…….and quickly someone is hurt. Hurt feelings remain in our hearts for a long time. They churn around in our minds and hearts and can easily make us ill. Hurt feelings which remain inside us destroy relationships and make it difficult for us to live and work together in harmony.
When someone hurts us, we also want to hurt them back, so that they too can feel pain and suffer like we do. It sometimes gives us some satisfaction to know that the person who hurt us is suffering too. But is this the right thing to do? In all possibility, they will also retaliate and the cycle of pain will continue. To live like this is to live in a prison of hurt feelings and anger.
In our reading today Jesus tells us not to retaliate when someone hurts us, but to do good to them. Why does Jesus say this? Doesn’t he know how hard it is to be nice to the colleague who always criticizes you in front of others? To the boss who never appreciates your hard work? Or the sister or brother who lets you down all the time? Or the mother –in- law who constantly finds fault with you?
Jesus does know this; he also knows that we cannot live happily together in families or communities when we hold onto feelings of anger and hurt inside us.
LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART
Forgiving those who hurt us is the key to rebuilding broken relationships and establishing harmony back into our lives. A young man was promoted over a senior person who had been working for the company for many years. The senior person was very angry and found fault with everything the young man said or did. The young man put up with it for a while, and then began retaliating in his own way. The atmosphere at the work place became very tense and hostile as colleagues divided into two camps. People dreaded coming to work everyday as they were greeted by a cycle of hurt and anger. One day the younger man shared his problems with his grandmother. “ You have to forgive him, “ she said, “ and stop this cycle of nastiness.”
“ I just can’t forgive him,” he said, ” You have no idea the torture he has put me through.”
“ Unless you, as the senior official in the office set the example, you cannot change what is happening,” she said. “ Follow the advice Jesus gives us. When he does something to annoy you, retaliate with goodness and kindness.”
That is just what the young man did. Whenever the other person irritated him, or criticized him in front of others, or spoke to him rudely, he replied with gentleness or an act of kindness. He slowly began to realized how hurt and angry this man was to have been bypassed by his promotion. Now that he understood the reason for his anger, he was able to forgive him truly from his heart.
To be truly able to forgive from the heart, we need to feel compassion or pity for the person who has hurt us. Jesus said from the cross,” Father ,forgive them for they know not what they do.” So it is with many who hurt us. They really don’t know why they are doing it, so we need to use Jesus’ phrase as often as we can to help us forgive them.
GO AND DO LIKEWISE
There are many times during the day when we need to forgive someone. It may be our maid who has come late, or our child who has spilt milk, or our spouse who misunderstood what we have said. Even before we get to work, we need to practice the art of forgiveness.
Very few of us work in isolation. Every day there are many people who cross our paths - some bring out the best in us and make us feel good. Others belittle us, make us feel worthless or anxious or threatened. These people are the ones we need to forgive, because they are the ones who hurt us and spoil our peace of mind.
To forgive someone who has hurt us is the hardest thing to do, especially if we have been hurt deeply by someone we love. It is those we love the most who hurt us the most. It is easier to forgive little itrrations and annoyances by saying, “ that’s alright,” ; “ No problem,”;
or “ forget it, it doesn’t matter.”
When we have been hurt deeply and treated unfairly by those we care for, then forgiveness seems impossible. It is at this point that we need to ask ourselves,” Do I want to continue with this anger and pain inside me, or do I want to be at peace with myself?” In order to be at peace, we need to forgive each other and move on.
FOR YOU TO THINK AND DISCUSS
- What kind of actions do you find it hard to forgive?
- What prevents you from forgiving someone who has hurt you.
- Share your experiences of forgiving or being forgiven.
- Are there people whom you have not forgiven in your heart? Have you learnt anything from this meditation?
FOR YOU TO MEDITATE ON
Lord, when I do something wrong, I run to you for forgiveness,
and my heart is so light because you always forgive me.
Even when I make the same mistakes again and again.
I thank you for forgiving me.
But, when my child, or neighbour , or colleague hurts me,
my heart becomes cold and as hard as stone.
Do good to those who hurt you, you said.
I can’t even look at those who hurt me, Lord,
all I want is to hurt them too.
Perhaps it was for people like me,
that even hanging from the cross,
you showed us how to forgive
those who hurt you so badly,
those who betrayed you,
and pierced nails into your flesh.
You inspire me to do the same Lord,
And I know that when you forgive me,
You expect me to do the same too.
Sp help me please…….
USHA JESUDASAN - firstname.lastname@example.org