The Art of Forgiveness

I once heard Jean Vanier say during this season of the full harvest moon, that we are all

called to forgive one another. This is very difficult to do for it is so much easier to see the faults in other people rather than ourselves. In fact, if we become greatly upset by another’s actions, it could very well be that we are seeing our own imperfections which manifest themselves in another person. If we do not recognize this, then we may feel wronged and be angry with the individual. Oftentimes, the person irritating us is unaware that they have upset you; hence, we can waste a great deal of time and energy feeling angry because another individual does not behave the way we want them to. When the apostles asked Jesus if there is a set number of times we should forgive, He responds that there is no limit since we all fail one another many times.

Nevertheless,the great English writer, C.S.Lewis says we must try to rid ourselves of resentment and the desire to humiliate the offender since we tend to see only how we have been hurt and not what the other is experiencing. However, Lewis recognizes that “forgiving does not mean excusing” especially if one has been bullied or cheated. While extremely difficult, we try to pray for people who may have wronged us and whose level of consciousness is so low that they cannot fathom our point of view. Hopefully, there will be more groups and voices like those in the Middle East where for example Palestinians and Israelis try not just to see one another as victims but see each other as having been wounded. A rapprochement is indeed more likely if you see the other’s pain and suffering.

On an individual level if we accept ourselves as we are -including our faults then it is unlikely we will judge other s so harshly. It is important then to work on our own stuff, raise our level of consciousness and then help others to raise theirs. Only by practising love not hate will be able to learn better to work together in greater harmony.

Thanks

MIchael F.

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