Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Forgiving small offenses

Today's Mass readings are about forgiveness. Nothing blocks God's grace more than a stubborn refusal to forgive someone. It's not a matter of feelings, but of the will.

Today an incident that happened to me about twenty years ago suddenly popped into my mind. I had forgotten all about it, and I have no idea why it came back to me today. I was driving on the interstate with another sister, and we stopped at a fast-food place to get something to eat. An older man was at the counter taking orders, and when he saw us (wearing our habits, of course) he made some insulting remarks to us because we were Catholic nuns.
I chose to ignore the remarks, got our food and left. (Today I would be a little more gutsy and tell him that we're paying customers, and if he harasses us on the basis of our religion, that's discrimination and it's against the law. Remember the Denny's case?)

Anyway, when I thought about this today, I started to feel angry and I realized that I need to forgive that guy. At the time I just forgot about it because it wasn't a big deal, or so it seemed. But there's something inside me that doesn't like to be insulted and I was surprised today when I realized that this anger was coming up.So I prayed for the grace to be able to forgive him, and I prayed for him. Maybe he's in bad circumstances right now, perhaps he's sick or dying, and needs help.

Our minds and hearts are so amazing--we never really forget anything, even if an event drops out of our conscious awareness. All the events of our life are hidden in our hearts and can be dredged up at any time. It's only the blood of Jesus Christ that brings healing, forgiveness and peace to all. C.S. Lewis once wrote that we have this saying "Time heals all wounds." But time doesn't heal us, he said, since we never forget unless we forgive. And we can only forgive through the grace of Christ.


RobK said...

I have had this reminiscing lately - especially as I have prepared for confession. Small things (and a few less small) that I had forgotten for years have come to mind. I have been praying for humility, and these reminders of my failings, my need to see Christ in others and my need for forgiveness have helped there.

Rae said...

"All the events of our life are hidden in our hearts and can be dredged up at any time"

Very well put. Purgatory, I think, will be the "time" when time itself ceases to hide from our consciousness the reality of our unfought spiritual battles and our refusals to forgive. I was trying to figure out, this morning, how I feel about Christ's crucifixion deep in my heart and I realized that along side of my honest and willed thankfulness and love for what He did, I also harbor feelings of resentment and rebellion. Why did he have to make such a big deal out of everything? Why couldn't he just have done nothing, said nothing, accomplished nothing and let us all continue to glide through life and stuff our angers and our hatreds and our greed? Why did He have to go and teach us right and wrong with His very blood?