Readings and Reflection for March 22 (Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

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Forgive what is unforgivable!

The French philosopher Paul Ricoeur said: we really need to ask forgiveness only for things unforgivable. In other words, if a fault is forgivable, we do not really need to ask for forgiveness. And my question is: how is it possible to forgive something that is unforgivable? From our own experience, we know that forgiveness is very difficult for all of us. Can we forgive a family member who betrayed us? Can we forgive someone who insulted us without reason? Can we forgive someone who took the life of our best friend? Can we forgive someone who put us in a perilous situation? We could make this list longer. One thing that we are sure of is that we cannot get a complete answer to these questions. No answer can satisfy our interrogations. In many cases, the wound in our soul is too deep for us to talk about forgiveness. In many cases, the victim has lost his or her confidence in others. A word of comfort can even hurt the victim one more time.

Seventy times seven times

As a human being, Jesus knew how difficult it is to forgive. He invited Peter and all of us to forgive those who trespassed against us. Not seven times, but seventy times seven times — that means always. To convince us, Jesus did not give us a theory. He told a parable in order to allow us to identify ourselves with different characters in different situations. Sometimes, we look like the king in the parable. We are willing to forgive others because of our compassion toward them. Other times, we are like the wicked servant, indifferent to the trials, to the sufferings of others. At times, we are like the friends of the wicked servant, going from one person to another to find a possible solution.

Through example

Above all, Jesus taught us by his own life. He endured many trials during his Passion. He was betrayed and denied by his own disciples. He was abandoned by those who were close to him. He suffered terribly on the cross. He was humiliated by many people. He came, however, to ask his Father: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

By looking at Jesus on the cross

Jesus gave us a perfect example when he asked his Father to forgive those who had offended him. Whenever we are offended, we can look at Jesus on the cross to be with him and to suffer with him. We can contemplate him to draw from him the power of forgiveness. There is no explanation. There is no advice. There is simply the example. Forgive as Jesus forgave.

We come to forgive others because someone has been given to us as the source of all forgiveness. Jesus has been given to us so that we can forgive. The word “forgive” makes us think of giving and of gift. Forgiveness is one of the most precious gifts. And it is free.

Prayer: God of forgiveness, grant us your gift of forgiveness so that we can forgive others as you always forgive us.
Resolution: Make a list of what is unforgivable for me and avoid doing those things to others.