Aug 13 – Memorial for St. Pontian, pope, martyr, and St. Hippolytus, priest, martyr
St. Pontian was among the first victims of an anti-Christian new emperor. Rounded up with the antipope Hippolytus, Pontian was deported to the labour mines. While imprisoned, Hippolytus reconciled his differences with Pontian and even ordered his followers to bring themselves back to the Church. Before he succumbed to the harsh treatment of the mines, Hippolytus became a true confessor of Christ. Pontian, in the mines only two months, was brutally beaten to death by his jailers.
– Patron Saint Index
Mt 18:21 – 19:1
…he let him go and cancelled the debt.
One of the struggles I have was understanding the concept of forgiveness. Many people make it sound so easy, many well-meaning Christians are quick to advise people to forgive without really helping people understand what forgiveness really means. To someone who is hurting, forgiving seems like a very difficult thing to do. I haven’t come across many people who know what forgiving really means. I didn’t, too, until I watched Fr Mike Schmitz’s video on forgiveness.
When we’ve been hurt, or harmed, or when we have suffered injustice, we feel a lot of negative emotions. And well-meaning people feel that once we have forgiven the offender, we shouldn’t feel any more pain, and that the relationship should go back to how it used to be. This idea of forgiveness was such a heavy burden on my heart then because I wanted to be a good Catholic. And good Catholics forgive, right?
Yes, Catholics forgive, but not in the way that many of us think or imagine.
Forgiveness means cancelling the other person’s debt. We all deserve something from someone. Be it respect, honour, fair dealing, honesty, affection, etc. However, because of our broken human nature, some people fall short of giving us what we deserve. They end up owing us that which we deserve. That is their debt to us. As a son or daughter, we deserve our parents’ love. As a friend, we deserve that our trust will not be broken. As a spouse, one deserves faithfulness to the wedding vows. As a worker, one deserves an honest wage. When we don’t get these, that’s why we are owed something. That’s the debt owed to us.
To forgive means to acknowledge and cancel this debt. To set the person free to make up for the damage that he has done to us. To make up our minds that we no longer hold them responsible for making up for that loss.
We will still feel hurt, and this is alright because feeling hurt is another story. And we have to allow ourselves to hold this pain because it doesn’t mean that we haven’t forgiven. It only means we are still hurt.
Forgiving also doesn’t mean that things will be back to the way they were. We already know the tendencies of the people around us. If we could see that they have mended their ways, then it is safe for us to be around them again. But if not, we have to ask the Lord to lead us how to redefine our relationship.
I hope we no longer confuse what it means to forgive. And when we see someone struggling with pain, let us help them understand the true meaning of forgiveness.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me find in my heart to forgive ________ for the (state the transgressions of the person her). I may not feel affection in my heart for him/her right now, but help me set him/her free.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for forgiving all my sins.
Stephanie, thank you for your reflection. Forgiveness is on what we can all embrace, as we’ve been on both sides. A few decades ago it was a person I very much needed to forgive, based on lots of little things, not one big thing, and I was finding it very difficult. I didn’t want to forgive her, at all. I didn’t think she really deserved it. But through prayer, and research on forgiveness, I was able to pray and ask God to help me love her. And they are in, eventually the forgiveness flowed. Here are a few things on forgiveness that I picked up along the way, but I have saved. And I just wanted to share with you
Forgiveness is not so much a matter of feeling as it is an act of the will.
(Jeff Cavins, from the Matthew study)
Faith has nothing to do with feelings.
(My priest, Fr Joe Peek)
We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors. (St Faustina)
Forgiveness flows from love. Once we choose to love, forgiveness is a moot point, because true forgiveness flows from true love.
(My priest, Fr Schramko or Fr Higgins)
Thank you, Gina. I really hope people would know what it means to really forgive because there was a point in time when it was such a burden to me because of my misconceptions. 😦
But God is good because he clarified them.
God bless 🙂