It is not easy to forgive those who have offended against us; the tendency to revenge or rancour appears innate. But Jesus went around forgiving freely and asked forgiveness for his executioners from the cross. His heart was great: he lived out his instruction to forgive enemies (cf. Mt 5:44). Love for enemies was, for Him, the way to be children of God, to be ‘like’ the Father. In the prayer he taught his disciples he presents our choice to forgive offenders as a sign that we welcome the Father’s forgiveness (cf. Mt 6:14, 18:35) and only someone who has forgiving can present an acceptable offering to God (cf. Mt 5:24). The practice of forgiveness is only possible for someone who knows himself forgiven. Anyone who experiences such gratuity, spreads it (cf. Lk 7:47).
Fr Claret rigorously lived the example of his Master in forgiving his persecutors. He wholeheartedly forgave his attacker in Holguin (Cuba, 1856; cf. Aut 583, 585). During his years of intense apostolate in Madrid, he suffered all kinds of calumnies, slanders, cruel comments and even various attacks. He forgave them all, commending them to God and loving them from the heart (Aut 628).
Every human being carries the sense of guilt inside him. We cannot escape the experience of remorse and, for our mental health, we need someone to allow us to taste forgiveness. From this experience we elevate ourselves to be like God’s forgiveness. The Lord shows us his love through his forgiveness without judgement. He never demands a humiliating confession from the sinners in the gospel (cf. Jn 8:11). Placing oneself under the life-giving action of Jesus begins with accepting his compassion, his generous forgiveness. And he teaches us to give life to others with this same generosity.
Do I feel in need of forgiveness? Do I celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation as a life-giving experience? Do I have the ability to give life to others, ‘ignoring’ their faults?