Commentary on the Gospel of
“Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” Sirach
In junior high, several “mean girls” frequently shoved me into trees and pulled my hair because I was a small, awkward nerd with a “bully me” target on my back. More than 50 years later I almost skipped our high school class reunion to avoid seeing the ring leader.
“Isn’t it time you got over that?” asked my saintly cousin.
He was right but today’s readings made me realize how hard it is to forget things we think we’ve forgiven, like being bullied. “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”
It’s something all of us need to work on. You don’t get through life without hurting others and being hurt. It’s pretty easy to SAY you forgive someone but actually DOING it (if you’re honest with yourself) is another matter.
One of the most useful models for forgiveness that I have encountered comes from AA, the step where the person in recovery makes amends to everyone they have hurt. It’s healing for both parties as I discovered when someone I am extremely close to went through the process.
You don’t have to be in a 12- step program to do it – just a simple note or phone call can help heal a broken relationship if both parties are open to it.
It helps to recognize that we can become better, deeper and more compassionate people from experiencing the hurts others inflict on us. Would I have the inordinate number of amazing friends who have blessed my life if grade school hadn’t been so awful? Who knows, but we have to trust that “God writes straight with crooked lines.”
If nothing else, we almost always feel better when we try to forgive and forget rather than cherishing favorite grudges. We know that God is merciful and understands our struggles so we’re not doing this unassisted.