Forgiveness is an important aspect of our faith life. Jesus spoke of forgiveness, he forgave people's sins, and he commissioned his followers to forgive. He even said that without forgiveness salvation is not possible: “Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us”. The work of forgiveness, therefore, must be seen not simply as a path to a happier and healthier life from a psychological perspective, but also from a religious perspective. We rely on God's forgiveness in our daily lives, and we are called to become like God in forgiving others. Mercy is known as one of the greatest attributes of God, and it should also be ours who are made in God's image and likeness.
Mercy is mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as one of the three fruits of a life of love (along with peace and joy). By “fruit” of love I understand a litmus test of sorts. How do I know that I am living the greatest commandment? By looking at the fruits of mercy, peace, and joy. Are they visible in my life? Mercy, then, is a by-product of love. Does this mean that it cannot be achieved all on its own? I believe that the two work hand in hand. If I have a difficult time forgiving someone, my love is not perfect, it perhaps is wounded. Trying to move towards forgiveness will lead the person to a life of greater love for God and others. This movement is seen by Michael Luebbert as movement towards the Beatitudinal or Forgiving Self: “The awakening of the Beatitudinal Self is achieved both as a result of a reception of God's grace and one's exercise of spiritual discipline, as one willingly creates a weak spot where the power of Christ's resurrection can break through” (p.172). In this movement towards forgiveness a beautiful communion of God and an individual is created as together they work towards true freedom expressed in the Beatitudes of Jesus: “blessed are the Poor in Spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful...” (Mt5:3-12). In the beatitudes Jesus describes the vulnerability of the forgiving self, the one who is willing to go to the wounds and hurts of his/her life in order to find God there. The beatitudes of Jesus, then, are a wonderful invitation for us who follow him, to not be afraid of encountering God in the most broken and weak moments and areas of our lives. Just as we encounter the love of Christ in his wounds, it is in our wounds that He wishes to encounter us.
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma