Forgiving those who have hurt us Print
Cutting Edge
Thursday, Mar. 27, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

Cutting Edge by Sr. Margie Lavonis

There are some common prayers that I pray by heart, such as the “Hail Mary,” the “Lord’s Prayer,” and the “Glory Be.”

They come to my mind automatically because I have prayed them so many times and I have them memorized. This is probably true for most Catholics.

The “Lord’s Prayer”

Recently, at Mass, we heard the Gospel account of Jesus teaching the “Lord’s Prayer” to his disciples and other followers. Because I usually prepare for the liturgy by praying the daily Scripture readings, “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” really jumped out at me.

The last part of the sentence is something to check ourselves on. For some of us these words merely flow off our tongues and we often don’t always think about what we are saying.

Can we forgive those who have hurt us or do we hold grudges or have resentments against others? Lent is a good time to examine our lives and reflect on those people in our lives who may be in that category.

Forgiving not an easy task

Really forgiving someone who has betrayed us or hurt us in any way is not easy, but this is a big part of being a follower of Jesus, and we cannot take it lightly.

We all know people (maybe ourselves) who hold deep resentments or hurts that need God’s healing. Sometimes people nurse their grudges and anger toward someone else for years. Some might not even remember what originally happened to cause the problem.

Every time we pray the Our Father, we are asking God to forgive us as we forgive others. He didn’t say to forgive only those who ask for pardon, but everyone.

Asking for forgiveness

At times we must initiate the conversation and take the first step toward reconciliation. To ask for pardon or to say, “I forgive you,” and really mean it, is difficult. Often our pride gets in the way or we fear the reaction of the other person. Even so, the act of being reconciled with another can free us.

This is my personal experience: once I lived with a Sister and we became friends, but our friendship didn’t last. I won’t bore you with details, but there was a lot of friction and competition in our jobs. When she got a ministry that I felt called to do, it took me years to be able to face her. I would turn the other way when I saw her coming.

Then one year during my annual retreat I wrote her a letter asking her to make peace with me and that I was sorry for anything I did to cause the problem. It was not easy, but it was one of the most freeing exercises in my life. Now we are not best friends, but we at least can talk with each other.

Need for reconciliation

Reconciliation is needed, not only in our individual lives, but also in our countries, churches, and other organizations. There can be no lasting peace unless people are willing to ask for and to give forgiveness.

I truly believe that if we can make right our individual relationships, that there will be less war and violence in our world. God’s forgiveness for us will be measured by how we forgive in our lives.

Sr. Margie Lavonis, a freelance writer, is a Sister of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Ind.