Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Power to Forgive Is Given (8)

Then [Jesus] breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. John 20: 22-13a CEV

In this station the Spirit gives to disciples the power to forgive. What of this gift to forgive ourselves and others? Forgiveness is the inner freedom not hold others' offenses against them. It is freedom from wanting to see others suffer the same kind of pain they inflicted on us. (see, for example Psalm 137:7-9) It is not about forgetting the offense, pretending it never happened. Thinking an injurious act never happened may be amnesia or a symptom of dementia, it is not forgiveness.

What we misunderstand about forgiveness can continue the wrong, rather than righting it. For example, two children, one a bully and one who is being bullied, can be told to "make up" by an adult, to be friends. This simply enables the bully to be nastier. Meanwhile the bullied child suffers more, and may become an abuser as an adult. The wounded wound.

Forgiveness is an inner work and "from the heart." (Matt. 18:35) God has already forgiven you. This station from John 20 asks the question: how will disciples forgive themselves for failing Jesus and- how will they forgive their enemies, which are many? There are outer acts of reconciliation, which show that there is still relationship, even a clean slate, in spite of a breech. But for now, the power disciples have to forgive others and themselves is nothing less than gift from the risen Christ. And it's in the air we breathe.

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