Some of us may have experienced tremendous hurt or pain due to betrayal from those who were supposed to be close and trusting to us, such as our friends, our brother or sister, our husband or wife, our children, or even our parents. When we experience such hurt or pain, would we still be able to forgive the person or persons who have betrayed us? As Christians we are reminded that we are asked to fogive those who trespass against us, just as we ask God to forgive us our trespasses. But how do we forgive, especially when the hurt seems so great?
Some people think that forgiveness means forgetting, but this is not true. We are asked to forgive, not forget, since if we try to forget the memories, they will not be healed. To bring about healing, we must remember, since forgiveness is a healing of that memory which we must remember. Also, some seem to think that forgiveness will take away the anger and the hurt feelings, but that too is not necessarily true. Forgiveness is not about taking away the anger and the hurt feelings, but it is a decision to let go of the hurts, and to refuse to allow our hurts to control us. Should we wait till those hurt feelings disappear entirely before we are ready to forgive? Of course not! Forgiveness can and should begin even when we continue to feel hurt.
Moreover, forgiveness is not a single event, since it is a process and it takes time. When we decide to forgive, it does not happen all at once, or instantly, like some sort of hokus pokus, since we decide to keep on forgiving, and we will never stop forgiving till the day we die. As Jesus told his disciples in the Gospel, we are to forgive “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.” That is a lifetime of forgiving indeed! Beside, we need to remember that forgiving others becomes easier when we realise that we too need forgiveness, since we too have made mistakes, betrayed others, hurt and gossiped about others, and are in need of forgiveness. God our Father readily forgives us for the many times that we’ve sinned, and we are challenged to do the same. Ultimately, we must learn to forgive ourselves, even though it may seem hard. Why do we need to forgive ourselves? Because if you cannot forgive yourself, you would also find it hard to forgive others, and you are doubting God’s compassion and mercy.
In today's first reading, we are reminded that "Resentment and anger, these are foul things, and both are found with the sinner. He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin. Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord?" May we make every effort to begin by forgiving now, instead of putting it off till tomorrow, or next month, or the year after. At the end of our life, may we look back with joy and thanksgiving that our life was well lived and marked by forgiveness and reconciliation, instead of unforgiveness, bitterness and sorrow.