Day Seven, First Tuesday of Lent
Matthew 6: 14-15
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Forgiveness is a big deal. Many teachers of spirituality teach it is the main deal.
In Christianity, Jesus teaches that we cannot be forgiven if we do not forgive others and some might turn it around and say that one cannot forgive others until one, him/herself, feels forgiven.
One of the ideas about forgiveness from A Course In Miracles is that forgiveness is the willingness to give up making other people responsible for your unhappiness.
Forgiveness is the work of the Atonement where the illusion of separation is replaced by the miracle of awareness of Oneness. This miracle is the vehicle of healing.
In Unitarian Universalism some preachers have taught that the path to salvation is gratitude and recognizing our radical dependence on others and an experience of gratitude for how our lives our sustained by the assistance of others is key to enlightenment is a profound idea and insight. But human nature being what it is we don’t feel gratitude until we exercise the choice of forgiveness for all the people and things that have disappointed us, neglected us, abandoned us, rejected us, and abused us.
Human beings are wired to play the victim when we have been harmed or neglected by others on whom we are dependent for need fulfillment. The resulting fear, anger, resentment, grievance can, at times, seem all encompassing and overwhelming. Jesus says as He is being crucified, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And they didn’t and we are still talking about it 2000 years later.
If Jesus can forgive his torturers and executioners and, perhaps, laugh at the absurdity of the situation, what about us and our grievances? Can you rise above them a little bit and have the presence of mind to see the torment and injustice and make the decision that the harm being perpetrated will not define you and influence your interior peace and joy?
Forgiveness, not making other people responsible for our unhappiness, is an attitude and competence difficult to develop and sustain, but it can be done and we have countless examples around us if we are looking for them.
When we find ourselves angry, resentful, upset, we are encountering a “forgiveness opportunity.” Will we seize the opportunity or play the victim?