Commentary on the Gospel of
Forgiveness. Lovely to pray about, difficult to do. As I read today’s Gospel from Matthew, I was transported to a painful memory of my journey to forgiveness. Several years ago, a colleague and I enjoyed both a friendship and productive working relationship. My friend abruptly ended our friendship and has maintained only the minimum of communication with me since. Forgiveness was not my first response as I was busy feeling confused and hurt and frustrated by the abrupt end of the friendship and of our collaboration.
After checking in with some trusted advisors to see what I could learn about my role in the matter, I embarked on the long journey toward forgiveness. The story that Jesus tells in response to Peter’s question about how many times we need to forgive has great wisdom. Jesus knows that when we are feeling pain and rejection, we can fall into the trap of vengeance and retaliation. And I must admit that at my low points, I contemplated some less than honorable words and actions toward my former friend.
How could I forgive seventy-seven times? I could not do so without praying for God’s grace. Praying to ask for the ability to forgive brings me to a sense of peace as I deeply feel God’s abiding love for me. God invites me to trust in that love just as the Israelites in our first reading showed great trust as they safely walked across the Jordan.
My journey to forgiveness has been bumpy and has taken a surprising amount of energy. Slowly I could begin to focus on the positive memories of the friendship and work collaborations. I began to feel grateful for the gifts this person had brought to my life. And while I did not agree with the unilateral decision to end the friendship with no chance to dialogue, I could acknowledge that is what they thought would be best.
Today I pray with gratitude for the many lessons I have learned in this journey to forgiveness. I pray for a spirit of curiosity so I can better understand the perspective of another. I pray to resist the temptation to use my words to wound someone directly or indirectly. I pray in thanksgiving for people who are in my life now and those who touched my life in the past.
I feel forgiveness seventy seven times and counting!