Sunday, 11 August 2013
When Christ hung dying on the Cross, despite His earlier betrayal, arrest, humiliation, beatings and torture; despite suffering the most painful of death and being taunted and tormented by His enemies, He still had love in His heart and asked for forgiveness on behalf of these people.
We are asked to do the same. We are asked to forgive others just as He forgave. When we recite the Prayer He taught us we seek His forgiveness and promise to forgive others.
He also taught us to "Love one another as I have loved you". A Commandment no less.
Yet, when we consider both of these teachings from our Lord, to love one another and to forgive whatever hurt is done to us, we cannot help but wander whether it is at all possible.
When Christ forgave on the Cross and loved as He has loved it was a Divine God who forgave and loved. Not a mere human like us. Can we, humans, possibly love and forgive as He?
Christ knows full well that what He asks us is impossible for us to achieve. Yet He asks all the same.
Being human we are subject to all human failings. When we are hurt we often feel resentment, ill-will and perhaps vengeance and forgiveness might be very difficult an emotion for us when the pain is still fresh and raw. And in time, as the memories of the hurt and pains come back we may still find it hard to forgive. Or, if we find it in our hearts to forgive, as many indeed do, the memories bring back that pain once again and, at the very least, we feel hard done by.
To forgive totally, as Christ did, is not within our grasp because we are not as Divine as He.
And to love unequivocally, all those within our circle of acquaintance, never mind our enemies, and to turn the other cheek is certainly not within our powers. No matter how much we try, there will always be one person whom we do not like, who rubs us the wrong way, whom we'd rather avoid. Yet we're asked to love one another as He has loved us.
So ... what are we to do? Are we doomed to failure? Unable to forgive totally and to love without reservation?
Our response to Christ's Commandment is to try as best as we can to obey it. Through gritted teeth perhaps, we should try again and again to forgive and to love. The memories of the hurts done to us will return, but these should not stop us from forgiving again and again.
We will probably fail ... often. But this should not stop us from trying. We will never achieve the same level of forgiveness and love as Christ, but His example should urge us on to try harder.
Saints did not become Saints because they were necessarily good at all times. They were often sinners who kept on trying.
God knows our human nature. He knows our failings and weaknesses. He knows we cannot achieve the impossible.
But in His Divine love and mercy He will welcome us with open arms for eternity with Him ... just because we kept trying and never gave up.