Reconciliation and Forgiveness

An excerpt from the Gospel of Thursday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time: (yes, I know it’s Tuesday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, but I’ve been busy. This Gospel passage triggered some things to think about, and I had to go about and think of them before writing this post. There will be 2 more posts on the subjects of forgiveness and reconciliation that I hope to get to today, or if not, then tomorrow. Besides, the Church exists partly outside of Time, that being the “Church Triumphant” in Heaven. And since we are connected to the saints in Heaven by way of the Communion of Saints, it doesn’t really matter that sometimes I’m late with a reading from a particular day. πŸ˜‰ )

Matthew 5:23-26;

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

This concerns reconciliation with a person who has a grievance against you. For the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter if the grievance is legitimate or even who is guilty. There exists a situation between you and another, and that situation must be cleared up before you can make an acceptable offering to God. An offering of prayer, or of yourself, whatever. You need to engage in something with God, an that will be impure and unacceptable until you have cleared the slate with another.

This is incidentally the basis for the Catholic teaching that you must confess all known mortal sins in sacramental confession before receiving Holy Communion, and why you must, if you’re thinking of returning to the Church, meet with a priest so he can help clear the way.

You reconcile. There is a thing between you and another, and that situation also would cause harm in your relationship with God. It must go. It is “clogging the pipes” through which grace flows to you. You meet with the other (when you can) and settle the difference. If the offer is rejected, and you’ve made and honest and sincere attempt, then you forgive and move on. You’ve done your part. The failure is now between the other and God.

Forgive means to break the emotional hold something has over you. In the previous paragraph, you tried to settle with the other and it was rejected. The hurt remains, the situation still exists. The other refuses to accept your offering to settle, nothing more can be done. You’ve been wronged, but it still has a hold on you. Get over it. It’ll take time, but to forgive means to release the situation, it is out of your hands and exists in the pasts. To not forgive means that the situation will still remain a part of you, although it existed back in the past. It becomes a resentment, a wrongdoing nurtured and sustained by the wounded.

It serves no useful purpose. It hinders your forward spiritual development and harms your developing relationships. It wears you down.

Turn it over to God. Let Him deal with it. By whatever means necessary, whether by prayer, some symbolic action, or just not thinking about it, try and no longer enable the event or transgression to have a hold on you. Divorce your emotions connected with the memory from the memory. No regrets, you’ve done all you could, it’s time to let go and move on. It will take time. Keep trying.

Another Gospel excerpt: Matthew 6:12, 14-15;

and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

This is part of the Lord’s Prayer, as told in Matthew. It simply means that if you do not forgive others who have wronged you, do not expect mercy from God for any wrongs you have committed. It makes sense. You have no business asking for mercy if you are not willing to extend it. This is related to the first Gospel excerpt concerning the need to reconcile with another before attempting to enter into something with God.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is healthy, mentally. All sorts of junk is tossed away.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

5 Comments

  1. Forgiveness is crucial to maintaining good health and I think that is something many people don’t realize. A book I would HIGHLY recommend is “Forgive to Live” by Dr. Dick Tibbits. He talks about the scientific link between forgiveness and good health, which is something that up to this point hasn’t been studied in a scientific setting. Also, people often are told TO forgive but not HOW TO forgive, which is another reason this book is great. The website for the book is a great resource of material, books and links to conferences held by the author that teach people how to forgive, and how to teach others to forgive in their community. The link is http://www.ForgivetoLive.net and its a really useful resource – I hope lots of people check it out!

  2. Hi Alex, thanks for your comments and the suggestion about the book. I’m sure it may make a nice complement to any Catholic’s library to have something secular to say about forgiveness and how to go about it. But we do have Jesus’ examples on forgiveness, how healthy it is, and how to do it.

  3. Hi Paulcoholic,I’m still lurking and learning. Love your rationale behind procrastination. LOL”Besides, the Church exists partly outside of Time, that being the “Church Triumphant” in Heaven. And since we are connected to the saints in Heaven by way of the Communion of Saints, it doesn’t really matter that sometimes I’m late with a reading from a particular day. πŸ˜‰ )”

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