Forgive us…as we forgive

The Gospel Book is a call for peace and reconciliation, an inspiration to forgiveness. God said it clearly and concisely: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”(Matthew 6:14) That is enough said for the rational people. The problem is that with all the envy and hatred, anger and malice there is very little room for rationality. And a man acts against his own common sense, people and communities, even whole nations act to their own harm

Ability to forgive is a virtue. And this virtue, as well as many others, requires some sacrifice from a man; to sacrifice his pride and arrogance and to accept his part in the conflict. This virtue requires a special feat from people, to submit their own will to that of others

In order to live, one has to forgive. Let’s think of a house in which there was an argument – and there is no house in which there was never an argument – and after that argument nobody talks to anybody anymore, the father does not speak to the mother, the mother does not speak to the children, and the children do not speak to each other, or to the mother, or to the father. Such is our church community when its children are upset, and agitated, and they argue, and only malice is on their mind. I believe that is the reason why we are where we are, and we see ourselves as we are, because we had one too many of such agitations and turbulences

Knowing how easily people accept evil, when asked by the Apostle Paul about the boundaries of forgiveness, God moved those boundaries to the infinity

When we pray to God, most of the times we say the Lord’s Prayer, and we say: “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”(Matthew 6:12) Let’s be clear, each and every one of us, that has anything unresolved with anyone, that bears someone’s hatred upon himself, or that carries hatred towards anyone in his soul, when saying the words of this prayer and not doing as they say, has the intention of deceiving our omniscient and omnipresent God Himself. That’s why God asks that before we pray to Him, we ask our brothers and sisters for forgiveness first. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”(Mark 11:25

This is hard science. Forgiveness is hardship and courage. It is much easier, sheltered in one’s own insecurity, to feed the soul with hatred, and to justify oneself and one’s actions with deceitful excuses than to meet with the person one bears a grudge against and to bravely and justly resolve the conflict

“Pay attention to yourselves”(Luke 17:3) Christ said. He did not say ‘pay attention to others’. That is a precious advice to any of us. Each of us should watch our own actions before we look at those of others. John Chrysostom compares those who find and criticize faults in others to flies that land on the wounds of others to contaminate them even more

We should all forgive others before we even think that others should or must forgive us. Nikolaj has an excellent example for that: one brother was insulted by his friend, however, he wanted peace so he went to see him and to reconcile. The friend however did not even want to open the door for him and jeered him away instead. So, he complained to his spiritual father and the father said: “All the way to your friend’s house you justified yourself while blaming him. My advice to you is that even though your friend offended you, in your mind you should think as if you offended him, that’s how you will reconcile with him.

“If your brother sins, rebuke him”(Luke 17,3) said the Lord. The Lord does not ask too much of us nor He expects the impossible. He does not want us to forget the truth. Even when we assume that we are just and innocent, and the one who offended us repents, forgive him, Christ said. Nothing else, nothing more, but clear and concise: ‘forgive him’. “And if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4

This Christ’s demand was hard to swallow even for the Apostles. Unable to understand or accept that, they simply and honestly said to the Lord: “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5) in this honesty of the Apostles we can find the answer to many of our doubts. If our mind cannot understand it, or our will cannot accept it, let’s find a different path; let’s take the course of faith. We know that faith works miracles

Holy Fathers advise that a man should not allow that the sunset finds him in anger and with unresolved conflicts. The wounds hurt more as they cool. Physical wounds heal with time, emotional wounds might too, however it is usually the opposite: the older the wounds the harder they heal. Therefore, we should wash our wounds in the rivers of words while we can still talk to one another so the wounds heal. “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way with him” (Matthew 5:25), the Lord commands to us. When our ways separate it will be too late

That is a concise message of the wise man from the Old Testament that said: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-27) “Do not repay evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain the blessing” (1 Peter 3:9) If we didn’t add our malice to the malice of our neighbour, near and far, and if we didn’t exceed their malice, the universe would be very happy. It is our misfortune, individual and common, that we want to break the whole jaw for one broken tooth, and that we want to take life for one wrong word. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”(Luke 6:28) Christ said. If this is a very difficult request, if it requires an increase of faith, let’s then try to practice what Christ instructed us and let’s not do to others what we don’t want others to do to us. (Matthew 7:12

Before anything, and before any good, if we want it to be accepted by God, let’s do good to one another, let’s make each other happy, and let’s reconcile. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First reconcile to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)