The beauty of forgiveness


Catholic Sunday Reflection

By Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza

One Friday afternoon, my cousin invited me to watch a film about a woman-assassin whose goal was to kill those who were responsible for the death of her parents. This movie had a slogan “Vengeance is Beautiful”. However, as Christians, we are challenged to see that forgiveness is more beautiful than vengeance. Below are three points why forgiveness becomes truly beneficial and healthy to live one’s life to the full.

Point #1 Forgiveness is Creative. Mistakes do not define totally a person as if one is placed in a box where change seems impossible. Through forgiveness, we give hope and help to our offender to embrace a new character free from guilt and shame. We lead an offender in becoming a renewed individual while having a positive outlook in life. In a way, we also stay optimistic and hopeful in life no matter what the situation is. This is also what God wants in the First Reading when He told Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt” (Joshua 5:9). Unfortunately, many people find it hard to forgive.

Hence, let us stop focusing on the damage that was done but on the sincerity of the person asking for forgiveness. Blessed Junipero Serra once said, “Christian law commands us to forgive injury and not to seek the sinner’s death, but his eternal salvation”.

Point #2 Forgiveness is a Communion. Angry and wrathful people have a tendency to isolate themselves for doubting every person they encounter. They always think that others would only cause harm and hurt them. Years ago, my cousin brought the whole family into a serious trouble which caused us so much anxiety and distress due to his uncontrolled vices. We almost decided to give him a hard punishment. However, my mother encouraged us all to be more understanding and forgiving no matter how impossible it may be. I now see the beauty of overcoming our struggles to embrace my cousin once again and ceaselessly regard him as part of the family. Jesus Himself was wronged by the children of God countless times, and yet He never isolated Himself nor sought vengeance for those transgressions. In the Second Reading, St. Paul would say, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). Indeed, forgiveness leads us to appreciate our family and friends all the more and the beauty of life that God has given us. We may not bring back the original and sincere relationship with our offenders, but by forgiving them, we become more open to others who are willing to support and love us.

Point #3 Forgiveness is a Celebration. Forgiving people always find a reason to celebrate life and to be happy. They desire to be relieved from the burden of resentments and grudges. Thus, they feel free and at peace while focusing on the light at the end of the dark tunnel. This is what made the Father told his elder son in the Gospel, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.  But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:31-32).

Jesus is the prime example for the virtue of forgiveness. He spent most of His time with outcasts and sinners like tax collectors, lepers, and prostitutes, because He believed that each human soul is valuable to be saved. In the same way, all of us are so precious to Jesus that He even gave up His life to save us from our sins. God has promised to forgive us if we come to Him and repent from our sins. When you are convinced that you were just a recipient of God’s grace and mercy, you will see the point why you should forgive those who don’t deserve nor have asked for your forgiveness.

As we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent, let us examine ourselves: 1) Who are those people whom I find difficult to forgive? 2) Who are those people to whom I wish to ask for forgiveness? And 3) What will I benefit from forgiving those who have hurt me?