February 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 7


By Rev. Mark Connolly

As we get further and further into the New Year, many of the resolutions we started with are either forgotten or abandoned. If there is something that should be uppermost in our mind during this year, it should be that we make it personally a year of peace. One of the greatest teachings Christ handed down concerning the attaining of peace was through the quality of forgiveness that we give to ourselves and to each other. I would like to share a few thoughts with you on the subject of forgiveness, without it there is no such thing as personal peace.

Illustration of a flag with the words Peace

When Peter the Apostle told Christ that the old law said we must be wiling to forgive seven times, Christ told Peter that the new law, His law, was that we must be wiling to forgive each other 70 times 7 times each day and this is the theological reminder that God forgives us 70 times 7 times a day. When Christ was confronted by the ten lepers he made them all clean, all whole. Another reminder of His theology of forgiveness, when He was on the cross nailed between two thieves one made a plea for forgiveness, and Christ rewarded him by saying this day you shall be with me in paradise. If ever you want to see families broken and disrupted, oftentimes it is because of an act where someone made a mistake or committed a fault, but the recipient has never found the time to forgive.

What we have to learn in Christian theology is simply this, as long as you carry a grudge, you will never truly follow the Christ who carried His Cross and taught us the theology of forgiveness.

Isn't it strange today when you look at Palestine and Israel how for centuries they have been at each other's throats and isn't it even stranger that this is the very land that Christ taught his theology of forgiveness. When you look at Northern Ireland for years between the Protestants and Catholics, killing each other, injuring each other, and this the land of Saints and scholars where Catholicism has been taught for 2,000 years especially the theology for forgiveness.

Each one of us in our own life, through words or acts, has injured others. And for that we should apologize and ask forgiveness. What the injured party has to keep in mind is that if you are injured by word or deed and the person who injures you never apologizes, you can never hold onto that hurt, you can never hold onto that wound. If you study the new testament quite closely, you will find that the most powerful words ever spoken by Christ were not against the woman found in adultery, not against the good thief, the most powerful words Christ spoke were against those who had an angry mind that was always aiming to hurt someone else.

He said, over and over again, if you are angry with your brother before you come to the altar to leave your gift, go first and be reconciled with your brother. When you think that the whole of Christ life was dedicated to forgiveness even to dying on a cross, the one theme that he taught us is that we must constantly forgive those who have trespassed against us. Holding onto a hurt, holding onto a verbal injury, contaminates you. It does very little damage to the one who caused you the hurt. When you offer forgiveness, you offer it not just for the benefit of the other, but for your own selves and the principal being the less time you spend carrying a grudge or harboring a hatred, the more chance you have of obtaining greater peace of mind. Without peace of mind, life is a constant battle for each one of us.

When you think of all of us as we enter into this new year looking for that magic bullet that gives us peace of mind and knowing there is no such thing as a magic bullet, when you enter this year with the recognition that the theology of forgiveness taught by Christ is a guarantee to you of peace of mind, if you learn that, this year will not only be a happy year for you, but a year of greater peace.

That knowledge leads to great love,
and love leads to great service,
giving to each other.
For me, that is friendship -
that knowing each other,
accepting each other just as we are,
so that we can love one another
and so fulfill the words of Jesus:

"Love one another as I have loved you -
as the Father has loved me."

- Mother Teresa