Forgive and Embrace Word on the Week 11th January 2020.
Last week’s blog had scarcely hit the bin when the dreams of times past turned into nightmares! Commemorate that lot – not on your life! One correspondent, in a fine show of charity said, “forgive and forget” people were OK with that, but “forgive and commemorate” was a bridge too far to cross!
What is it about forgiveness that is so difficult? It’s the thing that can so easily come back to bite us. The theologian, Miroslav Volf, is a Croat who has written on the subject. He found himself stumbled when at a question and answer time at his university he was asked if he could forgive the Serbs? The Serbs had done dreadful things to his people. He deferred answering the question!
You see Volf had recognised that forgiveness is not simply saying sorry and keeping out of the other’s way but goes much deeper and takes time and work. Sometimes it helps to take the other person’s position and they yours and argue the case from the other’s point of view. Repentance is always necessary, although at first it is hard to acknowledge it. It too is costly as you are exposing your feelings to the other.
If there was a way that avoided making yourself vulnerable –wouldn’t that be good! Especially where the events that engendered the hatred seem to point to the sins of the other. And where your own kith and kin are involved and they are watching you…better to take the family line which is usually the hard line.
Suppose the Prodigal had died in the far country and the Father on hearing the news (perhaps years later) decides to commemorate the event. Would the elder Brother come to it? What about all the years he had worked and never got a helping hand from the young fella. He had always been a waster! Why should I commemorate him? (St Luke Chapter 15 verse 29 paraphrased).
In forgiveness it is hard to realise we are dealing with a human being. One like myself. Part of the human race. Irrespective of colour or creed. The divine imperative to love the ‘other’ as yourself (St Luke Chapter 10 verse 27) had no excluded race. Jesus’s illustration that followed featured a Samaritan whom the expert in the law had excluded!
To the government’s credit their intention was to have no excluded groups. The Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police were to have their 100th commemoration in Dublin Castle next Friday. These groups, through no fault of their own ended up on the ‘wrong’ side and today’s descendants of those on the ‘right’ side will not permit it to take place.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (St Luke Chapter 23 verse 34).