I have been in Chicago now since Monday. I am still sick, but I have made my way to daily Mass since I have been here...something I have not attempted to do in a very long time. In sickness, I desire healing. I want to feel better. I focused my prayers and attention toward my physical body. Silly me. Today, God showed me I needed to examine where in my life I am in need of another kind of healing: forgiving others....and myself.
The Scriptures, especially the Gospels, are multi-faceted. They can be difficult to understand sometimes and other times, when our eyes, ears, and hearts are open, can be simple and profound (in the sense that the message is so simple that it becomes profound). Today's Gospel begins with Jesus telling us not to make our prayers overly complex with a multitude of words, but rather to remember God the Father already knows our needs and in making our prayers known to him, we must also be simple. Jesus proceeds to give us what we now call "The Lord's Prayer" or the "Our Father." At the end of the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we must forgive if we wish to be forgiven by God.
How simple God's message was to me today! He starts off by telling me that I don't need to try peel off the layers to the onion or dig around to hear what he wanted to say to me today. Then he tells me that I need to forgive in order to be forgiven. I simply need to let go of the grudges that have been imprisoning me for months and find joy in desiring shalom (peace/wholeness/well-being/good relationship) for them regardless of the injustice or pain they have caused me. God desired to heal me today, not physically, but in those relationships I have held within myself. Instead of pain, sadness, bitterness, and anger when I think of those people I have grudged, I now find joy and peace that comes with the freedom of loving my brothers and sisters as God wishes me to...to see their goodness through the righteousness Christ has gained for us.
As a person who likes to reign over their own life, I often want to "make things right" when I have done wrong. In the cases of the people that I have forgiven today, I may never be given the opportunity to have a right relationship or peace with them in a tangible way. Not being able to talk to them and set us on the right path again has troubled me for a long time, but the healing God granted me today allowed me to relinquish my desire to set the relationships right and to move on with the joy and peace Christ has offered us through simply forgiving.
"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." I think that also means he will find a way to show my forgiveness those people. I cannot heal myself, I cannot heal them, but I can let go and forgive so that we may be forgiven.
"Be forgiven, be forgiven,
be forgiven of the sin that you hold on.
Be forgiven, be forgiven,
Jesus died and rose
that you might know his love,
and be forgiven."
- Tom Booth