One of the greatest attributes of the One True God is that He is merciful. It was for this reason that He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
When it comes to mercy, it is not just knowing that our sins are forgiven, the other part is to forgive others that have hurt us. For some, the latter is more difficult than the former.
It is certainly not easy to forgive others. Often when we see someone that hurt us, immediately it triggers our past negative experience with that person. Sometimes this becomes so severe that it becomes a grudge, a despising of the person. There are people that I know that refuse to be in the presence of each other. Charity is gone and contempt enters.
In order to obtain the peace of Jesus Christ, it is necessary to forgive. By forgiving someone does not mean that you have to be best pals with someone. But it does mean that you no longer hold that sin or sins against that person and you desire the good for that person.
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta (whose feast day and the 24th anniversary of her death is today) said:
We need lots of love to forgive and we need lots of humility to forget, because it is not complete forgiveness unless we forget also…Very often we say we have forgiven but we cannot forget. And as long as we cannot forget, we really have not forgiven full.
Jesus crucified on the cross is the greatest expression and act of forgiveness. We can forgive others by contemplating Him on the Cross. Hearing His words from the Cross can lead us to true forgiveness: Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
One of my favorite saints who exuded the peace of Christ, Maximilian Kolbe, never spoke ill of those who hurt him in Auschwitz. He was aware of the evil in their actions, and I can only imagine how many times he prayed for their conversion.
Praying for someone who has hurt you is an act of charity. Rather praying for anyone is an expression of true charity because by your prayer you desire the good for that person.
My favorite Pope, Saint John Paul II forgave the man who shot him on May 13, 1981. Soon after he recovered from his wounds, Pope John Paul II personally visited him in prison and embraced him with paternal love.
In Jesus and Mary,
Fr. Jeff Yildirmaz