The first sentence in the celebrated book of M. Scott Peck, ‘The Road Less Travelled’ is this : Life is difficult.
Forgiveness is an experience of the heart. It is a conscious decision that we take in a relationship. To forgive is to forget the unpleasant and create a new beginning. But there are more difficult issues in this whole business of forgiveness.
One secret of forgiveness is that forgiveness always comes with a bundle of questions. Will he cheat us again? Will he hurt us again? Will he trouble us again? Will he speak ill of us again? . The ‘again questions’ reverberate in our heart after an act of forgiveness. Hence, granting forgiveness without true remorse looks futile. Our fear of the forgiven arises when we see the same person behaving in the old manner in new situations. Then it becomes more difficult for us to get on with the business of forgiveness.
But does Jesus calls us to forgive the same person, over the same mistakes he makes, again and again and again? I think that is a difficult act. If we were to repeatedly forgive the same person over the same offences, our family and friends will call us crazy, useless and a lame duck.
I have spoken with people and have found the subject of forgiveness a very complex issue. This is especially in the matters of sexual morality, financial integrity and social ethics. In these areas, forgiveness does not come cheap. In the world of sexual morality, finance and social ethics, often a ‘third eye’ is kept open on the forgiven subject even in our sleep! Revenge, vengeance, retribution, reprisal, setting of scores.... and this list of emotions goes on popping up in a hurt heart.
So, forgiving others is thorny and hard. Seeking forgiveness is much easy... isn’t it? The fun is, both of these come as a package... together. We cannot dissect one from the other. At least Jesus’ disciples cannot do so. I believe this is the most difficult and strange aspect of this whole business of reconciliation. To forgive and to be forgiven always comes together!
In the commencement of every Christian Eucharistic meal (The Holy Eucharist), this conundrum surfaces. We just cannot walk to a communion table if we haven’t settled the many issues with the world around. Those who have written the liturgy of the worship have cleverly put this in place. What a trick they have played! What a trick God has played!!
Life is difficult.