Father, Forgive Them!

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"Lord, by the grace of this sacrifice may we who ask forgiveness be ready to forgive one another."  These words startled me. Did others hear what I heard? The congregation was focused on the celebrant. After mass I looked in the Sacramentary. There I read: "Lord, by the grace of this sacrifice may we who ask forgiveness be ready to forgive one another." 

 

Could God be challenging us to forgive, to let go of those hurts we hug to our hearts? Could God be challenging us to be at peace now? How do you live in peace? Does respecting others, especially those with whom we live and work, really build a world of peace? Is peace a verb or a noun? Is peace something we do or is it something we are? Does peace begin the moment each of us looks into our own heart and confronts the evils that dwell there?

 

We cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves. We cannot sign peace treaties and grant amnesty, but we can meditate on these words. This is the challenge! Person by person, we can change the world; we can heal the world, if we examine our own attitudes. Do we treat others as if we were God and want everyone else to bow down and worship? The challenge is to name our own sin; acknowledge our own woundedness and ask forgiveness. Only when we accept the forgiveness, which flows from the Heart of Jesus, will we be able to forgive others. 

 

0c on the cross.jpgWhile dying on the cross Jesus taught:

 

"Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing."

 

Can we accept the forgiveness and the love of Jesus? Can reach out to others in forgiveness? As children of our heavenly Father we are called to make a difference in the world. We can think thoughts of peace, while in the midst of war. We make peace with ourselves; we take responsibility for past failures and forgive ourselves, knowing God has forgiven us. Peace will only be a part of our world, when we begin to forgive. Hard enough to forgive in times of peace, it's doubly hard in times of war.

 

 

As we make peace with ourselves, we repair those relationships, which are wounded; we call family members with whom we haven't spoken for years. Person by person, we ask for forgiveness. We let go of grudges, remembering Jesus taught:

 

"Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them. Whose sins you hold fast, they are held fast."

 

Our call to forgive is the call to make peace. Jesus' words on Easter night give us hope:

 

"Peace be with you."

 

Then He showed them his hands and side. As if to say: "This is the price of peace." It is by His sacrifice we can forgive. Alone we could not do this. God gives us the courage to look beyond "our hurts" and "our wrongs" to the real need that binds us together as a family and as members of the human race. We acknowledge that we need each other. Our call to holiness is the call to enter into the Mystery of Salvation by extending the forgiveness and the Peace of Christ to each other.

 

            Is peace a dream for Pollyannas? Or is peace the bedrock need of every person? Do we need peace to be the person God calls us to be? Each of us must answer these questions for ourselves. How we answer will determine how we live and how we die. How we answer will catapult us into a world of peace or a world of fear. May the grace of God be with us as we ponder the price of peace.