HEALING OF RELATIONSHIPS
The work of forgiveness has a twofold healing aspect. It enables others to be set free from bondage to Sin; and it sets us free from bondage to people through our own Sin. I am not "Born Free." I was born in Original Sin, which has little to with guilt, but with the inadequacy that leads to guilt.
When we are given the authority to remit or forgive Sin, we must see it in terms of what Jesus has done for us. We must see Him as Christus Revelatur, who uses us to bring revelation into our blindness. Education is no substitute for revelation. Jesus tells Peter, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but your Father in Heaven." Mt 16:17
We have been entrusted with revelation that we might share that revelation with others who seek God. We can only teach, but as we teach, Holy Spirit can make alive the material that we are teaching. It is the difference between knowing God and knowing about God.
We see Jesus as Christus Victor, the one who comes to break the bondage that Sin brings. We have been given His authority over all the power of the enemy. Lk 10:17-20 We are to set people free from the bondage of Sin and the Sin of bondage. Even psychology has had to acknowledge the success of AA's twelve steps and the failure of ego strength methods to break addiction.
He came as Christ, our Substitute. We are to assure people that they are forgiven because Jesus has opened the way out of Sin. They need only come to Jesus to trade in their guilt for His love in Confession and Absolution. This is what the Cross is about. It is not that we are excused and left in our fragile state of Sin. He brings us through death into resurrection where there is no Sin. (See tract on Confession)
He comes to participate in our lives that we might be a participant in His. When we are completely dead unto Sin and alive unto His righteousness, we will not be subject the forces of Sin that live within us. In the meantime, we need to go to the Great Physician for repeated treatments.
While the element of sorrow and remorse might be involved in the process of repentance, the important aspect of repentance is to keep turning to the Lord, and the path He has created us to walk in. (See tract on Vocation)
The Greek word for Sin is hamartia which means to miss the mark. The Hebrew word for repentance is jashubv, to turn. Perhaps we could say that it means to correct our aim. It is a continuous, lifetime work to seek and follow the will of God. Where we miss the mark, we do not ask God to move the target. We repent, turning to correct our aim.
THE END FORGIVENESS SEEKS
The end of forgiveness is to remove us from the grasp of Sin, and deliver us into the presence of God. We are to be set free to enjoy the intimacy with God that He has prepared for us. We are to find our vocation, the purpose for which He has created us. That is the definition of eternal life - "to know Thee the only true God." Jn 17:3
The other dimension of forgiveness is to bring us into a relationship of love with one another. That may be difficult in the flesh, but it becomes a normal relationship when we have been purged by the judgment of God, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus. (See tract on Forgiveness)
God's judgment is not to condemn but to purge us of
impurity. When we are willing to give up those things that are Sin in our lives, He is willing to take the old, crucify it with Jesus, and create us new in the image and likeness of Jesus. He will gather His wheat into His barn, the chaff He will burn in an unquenchable fire. Mt 3:12 When we are willing to turn loose the chaff, we can step out of the fire into the barn.
We are not to judge one another because we cannot do what God does. Our judgment is to commend or condemn. When we are tied up in that judgment, we are not free to let God take the old and give us the new. Until we forgive, we hold the chaff, and stand in the fire. (See tract on Judgment)
1. Are you willing to ask God's forgiveness for yourself?
2. Where it will not harm anyone else, are you willing to make amends and ask others to forgive you for what you have done to them?
3. Are you willing to forgive others what they have done to you?
4. Are you willing to assure others that God forgives them, as Jesus has commissioned you?
5. Are you willing to forgive God, when He doesn't do what you expect Him to do in your life?
6. Can you effectively confess the Sins of others so that they are forgiven? How do they get forgiven? Do you have to straighten out the others before God can love them? Did Jesus get them straight before He loved them, or love them in order to get them straight? Which would be the healing action that He asks of us?
1. Make your confession in the presence of someone who is willing to give you absolution, exercising the authority God has given to the Church. Remember to forgive yourself as you are assured of God's forgiveness He has given through your Confessor. Jn 20:23 Share with others the difference that it made in your life. (Do not discuss what you confessed, but how you were affected by the action.)
2. Make a list of people you feel you have offended in some way. Ask them to forgive you. (Be careful not to involve anyone else in that transaction. The exercise is not meant for us to justify ourselves by involving others, but to deal with our own guilt.)
3. Make a list of the people you need to forgive. Forgive them. (You may wish to tell some of them if there has been a long-standing antagonism between you, and seek some sort of reconciliation.)
4. Make an inventory of the times you have been mad at God, and forgive Him. (When you forgive God, it does not mean that He has done something wrong. It means that you had expected something that He did not do. It really means that you are willing to accept God the way He has revealed Himself to you instead of the way you expected Him to be at the time you got angry at Him.)
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