I am indeed tempted to say that a person who has not yet experienced forgiveness is seriously lacking in being profoundly human. To forgive and to be forgiven is an inherent task of each one if only to become fulfilled, much less liberated from a lot of things that trouble and make the heart so bitter. Forgiveness is necessary because we have been hurt. It is imperative because, knowingly and unknowingly, we have hurt others too. Hence, forgiveness is a must and is such a precious gift to everyone.
While it is perfect to forgive immediately like “do not let the sun go down on your anger”, more often than not, that is not what usually happens. Forgiveness takes time. Sometimes a very long excruciating time. But when it does come about, it is worth the wait and worth the time.
Being a classroom teacher myself, I am always exposed to the unforgiving bashing of students, albeit they do so undercover. There was one who was really so angry with me. And he did a lot of things to harm me and my name, albeit unbeknownst to me as well (although I have also suspected it too). It was only later on that I had known since he himself told me about it when we already got reconciled. After 16 years we would meet again, and surprisingly, we were friendlier to each other. I had a sense though that all those years there had already been that desire to forgive and get reconciled to each other.
Unexpectedly, we met in a place symbolic of healing – in a hospital. He told me, ”Father Eugene, I’ve been longing to see you actually but you went abroad and I went my way too. But I guess this is the perfect time and place to beg your forgiveness. You may not know it but I am sorry for the things I have done that harm you.” My instant reaction was, what else, to forgive. It has been a very long time already. Time has changed us both. Time has also healed wounds. Forgiveness is real in time… that perfect time.
There was once lady-physician, who was a very devout and deeply committed to the Christian Faith. This lady would come to me for counseling. Hence I had known that her constant prayer would always be “May I be like Jesus every day”. She has a boyfriend, also a doctor. They have been dating since college days. Just to make the story short, the girlfriend found out that the boyfriend was having an affair with another woman. To make the story even shorter, the lady, with her heart so crushed, was able to forgive her boyfriend. On the experience of being forgiven, the boyfriend told her girlfriend, “Thank you for forgiving me and giving me a second chance… You are like Jesus.” On that remark, the girlfriend was out of words. She was deeply hurt yet but her very prayer was outrightly answered. She curiously asked her boyfriend what made him say that. “Because with so much pain caused by betrayal, it was only Jesus who could offer forgiveness,” said the boyfriend.
“How can I forgive when there is not even remorse for the wrong done. And the one who had inflicted pain is not asking for forgiveness nor is approaching me?” “Siya ang may kasalanan, dapat siya ang lumapit at humingi ng tawad.” Comments like these make forgiveness elusive. Paano kung hindi talaga lalapit? Both become losers. Instead, lumapit man siya o hindi, sa puso ko ay napatawad ko na siya. Think about the father of the prodigal son. He had long forgiven his wayward son. That was why he ran even faster approaching his son give him a loving embrace.
Nobody has ever committed any wrong by forgiving. No matter how many times you do it. It is always winnable in any case and at any time.
Everyone, have a very fruitful Season of Lent.