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Fr. Cameli is the Archbishop's Delegate for Formation and Mission.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Can we find forgiveness today?

I live at Holy Name Cathedral off of north Michigan Avenue. The sidewalks are crowded with workers and students and tourists. It’s easy to bump into people—accidently of course. An “Excuse me” is often met with a scowl. There’s very little forgiveness, it seems, on the Gold Coast. Actually, I don’t think there’s very much forgiveness generally in our world today. And this is true for many reasons.

Forgiveness, in the minds of many people, is a sign of softness in a tough world. It’s a demonstration of vulnerability in an environment that calls for protection. Forgiveness can even allow you to be exploited. The message is clear: don’t forgive, stay tough, and stay protected.

In faith, it’s a different story. Jesus forgave sinners and called people to forgive each other. This is central to his teaching and to the great prayer he gave us: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” So often in the Gospels, we hear him say, “Your sins are forgiven. Go and live in a new way.” His words are so generous and so amazing and so much in contrast to what we hear on the street. And even more—he lived the teaching. As he was being crucified, he said, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” Saint Aelred says that Jesus not only forgave his executioners but even provided an excuse for them: “They do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus’ forgiveness is amazing and abundant. His forgiveness does not stem from some soft, vulnerable, or exploitable quirk in his personality. His forgiveness comes from strength and creativity. It is the creative and transforming power of God.

Believe it or not—and the choice is yours—Jesus’ forgiveness comes to us today. It comes in a sacrament we call Reconciliation or Penance or, more plainly, going to confession. In an unforgiving world, we have the source of abundant, even infinite forgiveness. Amazing.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:52 PM

Forgiveness is indeed the most difficult part of being Catholic; however, I shall not give up. I don't care how hard it is. I will not give up, not even when somebody does not think they need to be forgiveness for anything.

Donald D.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 2:02 PM

I believe very strongly in the power of reconciliation. Reconciling with, or forgiving others, has enabled me to live a fuller life, not burdened with revenge or hatred, but free to choose love and compassion.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a clergy sexual abuse survivor, and I know from experience that reconciliation is the healthy choice.

Mike H.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 9:40 PM

I try to forgive people for their ignorance every day. Then I pray for them that they see the way of the Lord and remember our Golden Rule.

Gina J.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 10:45 AM

It takes a lot of strength, courage & humbleness to forgive. There is nothing weak about that. Unfortunately, even when we know we need to forgive so that we too may be forgiven we do not or maybe we cannot. For some forgiveness is a slow and painful process. Once reached I am sure with it comes freedom and peace.

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Prayer For Freedom Through Forgiveness

Father God, I confess to you my sin and I ask you to forgive me. Right now I accept your forgiveness. I thank you that I am forgiven and my sins are remembered no more. Right now I choose to forgive myself for the things that I have done. I am free from guilt and shame. Right now I choose to forgive those who have hurt me or offended me. I walk in the freedom that you have given to me through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Yesenia V.

Monday, April 25, 2011 1:11 PM

Forgiviness as an alternative to violence is something to be lived out in our daily lives.

Thomas H.

Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:21 AM

Forgiveness is one of the hardest parts of being a Christian and something I struggle with daily.

Kathryn K.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 12:32 PM

Forgiveness is for softies? Not so... it can be one of the greatest challenges in life. Yet if Jesus was able to forgive from the cross, I should be able to forgive the little slights and offenses that come my way.

NCSue R.

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