To Forgive is Divine

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Men and women have tried to understand the meaning of life since the beginning. Our meditation on it is often overwhelmed by the irrational cruelties that arise from the dark places of human pride. Yet, we also know that men and women throughout history have shown the ‘better angels of our nature’ as well. A Christian never forgets that he or she is made in the image and likeness of God. We must never forget that it is our duty and our salvation to live in this world out of that understanding. We know that this is not easy, that the world has found many ways to tempt us away from this knowledge and from ourselves, but we also know that when we turn away from the nature that God made us in, we are turning away from him as well.

To understand God one must understand divine love. As we read in the First Letter of John, ʺBeloved, let us love one another for love is of God and whoever loves knows God. Anyone who does not know love does not know God, because God is love.ʺ (1 John 4: 7-8) This is the image and likeness that God breathes into us from the very beginning. To turn away from this is to turn away from ourselves, to turn away from life itself, both earthly and eternal. On the other hand, to live out of this nature, that is, to live out of love, is to live as God intended us to live with ourselves, with one another, and with Him. Here are some thoughts on the Love that inspires and nurtures all of creation, especially us.

Love is the cause of creation. Love is the force, the reason, and the power within the Incarnation. Love is the healing power of forgiveness. Love is the breath of life. It is that which binds us to one another and, finally, to God who is Love. Love knows no fear. Finally, ʺAmor vincit omnia,ʺ ʺLove conquers all.ʺ

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Our salvation is in how well we learn to love. All of us know this is true, but all of us also know how difficult it is to love in the reality of the world we find ourselves in. We have been witness to cruelties that boggle the mind, we have been victims of the subtle, injurious acts of others, and we have committed acts against love ourselves in times of stress and out of our own ignorance. But we also have the witness of the life of Christ and of the Cross. The love that God has for us is most powerfully revealed to us by Christ on the Cross. When Jesus commands us to love others as he loved us, we are asked to see forgiveness as the core of that love. The pinnacle of Christ’s life was not in any of his miracles, nor in the fact that he initiated his Church on earth, it was in his sacrifice on the Cross, which he willingly accepted and endured out of love for each and every one of us. He willingly bore the weight of all of our sins on that Cross forgiving them, washing them away with his blood. This is what he asks us to do for one another. It is in forgiving that we show the depths of our love for one another. It is the act of forgiveness that brings about the miracles of healing in our broken relationships. Forgiveness is God’s love. It is what saves.

Lord, make us all instruments of your love in this world. Give us the grace to forgive those who have injured us and let our forgiveness be true, honest and humble. Let it be given out of love for the other and for you. We know that the suffering we encounter in our own lives and that which we see in the world can only be healed by and through the power of forgiveness. Give us the courage to love others well enough to forgive them, to love them as you do. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.