According to Pope Francis, what Jesus set up was a revolution of tenderness … replacing bitterness and hatred with a love that refuses to be contaminated by the wrongdoing of another. He advanced from what was said in the past to “but I say to you … offer the wicked man no resistance … turn the other cheek … go the extra mile … love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
The most severe testing of genuine Christianity is the willingness to forgive.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church admits that human nature on its own will be unable to find forgiveness, but with the aid of the Holy Spirit a new way of seeing the past opens up. One begins to remember the past with the heart and eyes of Christ.
“It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offence; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory into transforming the hurt into intercession” (Catechism 2834).
Think of the Holy Spirit like a helicopter lifting us up to a height where we have a wider vista of the road of life. Now we can see where the wrongdoer has come from. Now we view our enemy as a very sick person and we begin to have pity on that sick, unhappy person. That is how the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion.
The Spirit also opens up the road ahead and we see what a dreadfully unhappy future lies in store for the wrongdoer. So, we pray for his/her healing and conversion. Thus “the Holy Spirit purifies the memory into transforming the hurt into intercession.”
Spirit-filled forgiveness is the mark of genuine children “of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad people as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest people alike”. God’s love is not selective. It is universal. Reflect on today’s Responsorial Psalm.
The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.
Br Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap.
(Image from https://colettelafia.com/receiving-tenderness-love/)