Forgiveness


#1

A friend of mine asked this question that I didn’t have a very good answer for:

“If God through his Word and the Church has commanded that we as members of the Church must ask forgiveness (in confession or by a perfect act of contrition in grave circumstances) in order to receive forgiveness for our sins, why are we told to forgive others without them first asking our forgiveness? Doesn’t this hold us to a higher standard? If God were to abide by this, wouldn’t we all be automatically forgiven, even if we never asked for forgiveness?”

I know that is a mouthful to chew on. I have an idea that the answer must lie in the fact that our act of forgiving others in itself is therapeutic and rejuvenating to our souls and helps build up our relationship with others as well as with God, but this answer seems a bit weak on its own. Does anyone have anything to add?


#2

[quote=Tim in MI]A friend of mine asked this question that I didn’t have a very good answer for:

“If God through his Word and the Church has commanded that we as members of the Church must ask forgiveness (in confession or by a perfect act of contrition in grave circumstances) in order to receive forgiveness for our sins, why are we told to forgive others without them first asking our forgiveness? Doesn’t this hold us to a higher standard? If God were to abide by this, wouldn’t we all be automatically forgiven, even if we never asked for forgiveness?”

I know that is a mouthful to chew on. I have an idea that the answer must lie in the fact that our act of forgiving others in itself is therapeutic and rejuvenating to our souls and helps build up our relationship with others as well as with God, but this answer seems a bit weak on its own. Does anyone have anything to add?
[/quote]

Much of the answer is discussed in the Catechism articles 2838-2845.
One of the key points it seems is that if we won’t forgive, God’s “mercy cannot penetrate our hearts”.


#3

I’ve heard the analogy that unforgiveness is like making your hands into fists: God has nowhere to put his gifts.
Looking at it from another perspective, there is a difference between being forgiven and actually receiving that forgiveness. If someone hurts me and I forgive him, but he does not receive it, he cannot benefit from my forgiveness. On the other hand, if he asks for forgiveness and/or atones for his wrongdoing, he can benefit from it and the relationship can be repaired. I suppose you could say that God has forgiven all of us, but he respects us too much to force it on us. In order for us to receive God’s forgiveness, we have to ask for it.


#4

Instead of “hold us to a higher standard” perhaps you could think of it like this, “offer us a greater blessing.”

I know that is a mouthful to chew on. I have an idea that the answer must lie in the fact that our act of forgiving others in itself is therapeutic and rejuvenating to our souls and helps build up our relationship with others as well as with God, but this answer seems a bit weak on its own. Does anyone have anything to add?

I’m inclined to agree. When we forgive, we let go of any anger we may have been harboring – which is funny because that anger then is our own judgment against ourselves which is itself a sin.

When we seek forgiveness from other people, I don’t think we are blessed. Apologizing is great, admitting to fault is great, but I don’t think anybody “owes” it to me to forgive me for anything. They owe it to themselves, but not me. If they can’t forgive me for a perceived slight, that’s their loss, not mine.

On this same topic of forgiveness, I’d be interested to hear about the positive effects of forgiving others v the positive effects of going to confession. I think I might have mixed them up a bit in this post.

Alan


#5

[quote=Tim in MI]A friend of mine asked this question that I didn’t have a very good answer for:

“If God through his Word and the Church has commanded that we as members of the Church must ask forgiveness (in confession or by a perfect act of contrition in grave circumstances) in order to receive forgiveness for our sins, why are we told to forgive others without them first asking our forgiveness? Doesn’t this hold us to a higher standard? If God were to abide by this, wouldn’t we all be automatically forgiven, even if we never asked for forgiveness?”

I know that is a mouthful to chew on. I have an idea that the answer must lie in the fact that our act of forgiving others in itself is therapeutic and rejuvenating to our souls and helps build up our relationship with others as well as with God, but this answer seems a bit weak on its own. Does anyone have anything to add?
[/quote]

Lets not lose sight of the Fact that we are NOT equal to God, and we should just do as He says. What goes for us, may or may not go for Him. That is why he is our “Lord” , and our “Father”. He is to be obeyed!
Peace of the Lord be with you!


#6

I once heard an insightful operational definition of forgiveness. A forgives B when he gives up his right to inflict hurt on B, when B has first hurt A. When one forgives, one relieves oneself of a tremendous burden – a burden that can wear down or even destroy the bearer.

Christians can have problems with the concept of forgiveness thanks to the distortion of it that the popular culture frequently foists upon them. Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting something has happened. Indeed, doing that can be irresponsible. Nor does it involve entering into a conspiracy to make the consequences to the perpetrator of the hurtful action disappear. Take a thief, for instance. Pretending the theft never happened can lead to presenting the thief with what amounts to temptations to one’s weaker brother. And it is certainly wrong to thwart society’s due response to the commission of a crime.

In any offense, God is the one chiefly wronged. Even murder is the taking of a life that belongs, first, to God. When we forgive, we acknowledge that, and God, on His part, gives us the grace and strength to remain a part of His grand plan. Failing or worse refusing to forgive is going out on one’s own, with one’s own resources, and so frequently comes to grief. And asking God for His forgiveness when we do wrong is our own acknowledgement that He is the one chiefly wronged, which opens us to His grace and strengthening (which He will never force on us) to effect amendment.

Blessings,

Gerry


#7

God extends forgiveness to all. We appropriate that forgiveness through repentance (Sacrament of Penance). We are likewise called to extend forgiveness to all. They appropriate that forgiveness through repentance (being sorrowful and making amends, as best as possible). There is no contradiction.


#8

Thought I would share something related to forgiveness that has been on my mind for a while.

Perhaps you have heard of the book “Five people you meet when you go to heaven” I had read the other book by this author ("Tuesdays with Morrie) which I thought highly of. A number of people had told me how good the movie version of “Five People…” was. I picked up that book with somewhat eleveated expectations and was pleasantly suprized when those expectations were exceeded by far.

Forgiveness can be a very abstract idea. This book put flesh and bones on the idea of forgiveness. It is worth reading by someone interested in what it means to forgive

peace

-Jim


#9

[quote=John_Henry]God extends forgiveness to all. We appropriate that forgiveness through repentance (Sacrament of Penance). We are likewise called to extend forgiveness to all. They appropriate that forgiveness through repentance (being sorrowful and making amends, as best as possible). There is no contradiction.
[/quote]

This is a great response and I wish to build upon what you have written here. First of all, we have a partial answer on forgiveness in the Gospel story of the the servant who owed a huge debt to his master and he was forgiven the debt. However, another servant owed him a debt and instead of forgiving that other servant he had him tortured and thrown into prison. When the master found out, he was very angry and the first servant was punished because of his own lack of forgiveness. This is my paraphrase of the story.

When we have been hurt, for example abuse within the family, it is really hard to forgive the person or persons involved. As a child, you can try to forgive over and over again, but if the person who is inflicting the abuse never says sorry or never asks for forgiveness it is very difficult for us to respond and continue the forgiveness that we have given in the past. That is the point when bitterness of heart sets in, and when that happens we become slaves to our own egos, because we have forgotten the most important lesson in the Gospel message:

“Father, forgive them, they do no know what they are doing”.

Even though Judas betrayed Jesus, if Judas had sought forgiveness then who knows, I suspect that God would have forgiven him for the selfishness involved in his crimes.

If we are being victimized then it might be helpful to look to the Cross and remember what Jesus suffered for us in the way of wounds that were inflicted as he was being tortured by the Roman soldiers. Despite everything, from the Cross Jesus forgave them. We could all do well to follow His example instead of listening to our bruised egos.

Maggie
(who has been a victim of abuse and recently learned that her son has also been a victim)


closed #10

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