Forgiveness is a Process,
a Journey of the Heart
and Jaime Bernardo, SFO
Chairs, National Family Commission
Jubilee Year is a time for forgiveness – forgiveness of debts and forgiveness
of wrongs. We are called to forgive, and to ask for forgiveness.
are about 1.3 billion people in the world who are living in abject poverty.
They are mostly women and children who live in the poorest countries of
the world. We, as Christians and
Franciscans, are called upon to help feed, clothe, and give shelter to these
least fortunate children of God, by showing our solidarity with Pope John Paul
II who has asked the leaders of the wealthiest nations to forgive the debts of
the developing countries. We should
make everyone aware of the plight of the poor in the world.
people from all over the United States came to Washington, DC to march in
support of the Jubilee 2000 Campaign led by the Franciscan friars and Seculars
in support of "Forgiveness of Debt".
Holy Father, while celebrating Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica on March 12,
2000, the Day of Pardon, asked forgiveness for the sins of Catholics in seven
areas of concern: sins in general, sins in the service of truth, sins against
Christian unity, sins against the Jewish people, sins against “love, peace,
and the rights of people and respect for cultures and religions”, sins against
the dignity of the human race, and sins related to the fundamental rights of the
our Holy Father’s example of reconciliation, we should ask for forgiveness for
the wrongful acts we have committed against members of our own family, our
relatives, friends, and neighbors. We
should ask forgiveness for the hurt we have caused them, promising ourselves
that we will love them as Jesus has loved us.
At the same time we should forgive all those who have hurt us, and make a
commitment to be more tolerant of their shortcomings.
Jubilee is the right time for forgiveness, and we can be comforted by the
realization that forgiveness is a grace, a wonderful Christian virtue.
Lester Bach, OFM Cap, in his Catch Me a Rainbow, tells us that “our
profession as Franciscans call us to be the light of the world.
We are asked not to hide our gifts from others.
We are commanded to forgive others.
We are quickly aware that a gospel lifestyle requires a lifetime
commitment. It requires an intimacy
with Jesus which is our source of light and power”.
much of the pain in the world is because of unforgiven hurts.
Often we bring more pain by our lack of forgiveness.
We hold a grudge or resentment towards those who hurt us.
But, holding a grudge binds us to the past.
It usurps God’s rightful role by taking the matter into our own hands.
When we hold a grudge or when we do not forgive others, we are holding
someone in debt to us, and we are also not receiving into our hearts the grace
and the love that God wants to pour into us – the very things we need to heal
our hurt. The pain does not go
away. That is why forgiveness is so
important. God calls us to forgive
one another as God forgave us. “…Bearing
with one another and forgiving one another… as the Lord has forgiven you, so
must you also do.” (Colossians, 3:13)
Many people need to forgive themselves.
Our Franciscan lifestyle requires us to learn to accept people of all
kinds. It teaches us to offer
acceptance and forgiveness for whatever wrongdoing they have done.
The divorced feel left out of life, the AIDS victims stay away from
people for fear of not being accepted, the drug addicts and the alcoholics feel
unworthy and have lost their sense of dignity.
These are the people whom Franciscans should accept as they are.
As the Father sees in every person his image, so Secular Franciscans
should accept all people as brother and sister in God’s image and likeness.
In our brokenness, we become the instruments of peace and bearers of the
sacrament of forgiveness in our families and our communities.
Forgiveness is a process. Slowly,
we let go of our bitterness. With patience and perseverance we can find the
peace we seek. Forgiving is a
journey of the heart. It is
something you do for yourself, not for someone else. Begin to love someone you have forgiven.
Real forgiveness comes from the heart, or it isn’t really forgiveness.
Why is the way of forgiveness a part of a Franciscan lifestyle?
Why do we say that the unforgiving person is the real loser? How does a
lack of forgiveness affect my lifestyle as a gospel-person?
As Franciscans what can we do to become a reconciling face of God’s