In Watching the Stations of the Cross one Friday night during Lent, I heard the very familiar line of The Lord’s Prayer – “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” – in a new way.
How does Christ forgive us our sins? By suffering and dying for us on the Cross. How are we, then, supposed to forgive those who sin against us? The same way that he does. Yes, through suffering. Forgiveness almost always requires some kind of sacrifice.
Christ was willing. Am I?…
To truly forgive someone comes at a cost – a cost of pride, often. We have to let go of our anger, our indignation, our sense of superiority, or our hurt feelings… And this isn’t always easy. But, the forgiveness of our sins came at an even greater cost – one which Jesus lovingly paid as he was put to death.
Although we may all need to experience a taste of Good Friday in forgiving those who have wronged us, let us remember what Christ’s sacrifice gained for us. For, Good Friday leads to Easter Sunday. And, though it may hurt to forgive another, when we are truly merciful, we are lifted up by our loving act to experience the full joy of life. For, true happiness will never be experienced by us so long as we hold grudges against others, so long as we carry vengeance, wrath, or hatred in our hearts. When we let go of these destructive thoughts, attitudes, and feelings, we are set free from prison, as it were, raised up from the grave to the clear light of new life. Giving someone a second chance (or even a 490th chance) also allows us to receive a gift of renewal, of freedom, and of love.
Truly, mercy is the heart of Christ and the soul of Christianity. Unique in all the religions and philosophies of the world, following Jesus provides us with the key to a happy life: forgiveness. Our loving God lived it so that we may love it and live it as well.
As we commemorate Good Friday and celebrate Easter, let us remember how Christ came to forgive us of our sins – and how we, too, here and now, can enter into his Passion and, so, his glorious Resurrection, whenever we forgive those who have sinned against us.
Lord, I am grateful for your mercy! You poured out your blood so that my sins may be forgiven. Help me to be willing to make small sacrifices in order to forgive those who have done me wrong. I want to live always in your mercy and love, Lord. So, please, make me new, make me like you. Whenever I give to others the mercy that I have received from you, may I be lifted up by love to the full joy of life. Amen.
© 2017 Christina Chase
painting credit: Jesus on the Cross, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1665. At the Met.