Last week in our Communtiy liturgy our homilest spent some time fleshing out his ideas on forgiveness. It is not an easy thing. But it is essential in all committed relationships. It is a pre-requisite for community living.
As we get older, we can even trim our spiritual vocabulary down to just three words: Forgive, forgive, forgive! That's really what it is all about. It is all about forgiveness.
To die with a forgiving heart is the ultimate. We shouldn't delude ourselves on this. Everything in the world does little for us if our hearts are bitter and incapable of forgiveness.
But it’s not easy to forgive. Most everything inside of us protests. When we have been wronged, when we have suffered an injustice, when someone or something has treated us unfairly, thousands of physical and psychological mechanisms inside of us begin to clam-up, to shut-down, to freeze- over, to self-protect, and to scream-out in protest, anger, and rage.
Forgiveness is not something we can just wish and make happen. The heart, as Pascal once said, has its reasons. It also has its rhythms, its paranoia, its cold bitter spots, and its need to seal itself off from whatever has wounded it.
And finally, all of us have been wounded. No one comes to adulthood with his or her heart fully intact. In ways small or traumatic, we have all been treated unjustly, violated, hurt, ignored, not properly honored, and unfairly cast aside. We all carry wounds and, with those wounds, we all carry some angers, some bitterness, and some areas within which we have not forgiven.