Do you ever struggle to forgive the people in your life when they hurt you? When people hurt us, it’s easy to get frustrated and defensive but Jesus invites us to be compassionate and forgiving. Today, Dr. Sri teaches us three ways to cultivate a heart of forgiveness in our daily lives.
Snippet from the Show
“Forgiveness is not always easy; it is one of the most unselfish acts of love.”- Fr. Jacques Philippe
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
“ Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”- Matthew 23-35
When we are wronged by others, it’s very tempting to build up walls of resentment in our relationships to protect ourselves. In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus teaches us that forgiveness is an important part of our lives as sons and daughters of God. We are called to imitate God who is merciful and slower to anger. When we fail to forgive deeply and quickly, division begins to form in our relationships, and division is never from God. We are all fellow sufferers and sinners in need of God’s mercy, hardening our hearts to each other is never fruitful.
Forgiving from the heart draws us closer to the heart of the Father who is always quick to forgive our sins even when we don’t deserve his mercy. Forgiveness is not easy but it’s an unselfish act of love that sets us free from hatred, resentment and anger. Jesus is calling us to take his heart which is full of mercy, compassion, and understanding. Jesus wants to relieve us from the burden of resentment so love can be reborn over and over again in our relationships.
Jesus teaches us that we must always forgive our neighbor, no matter how many times we are wronged. After we forgive others, we can also challenge them and call them higher in a gentle and compassionate way. By letting our neighbors know how their actions and words can be hurtful, we help them grow in holiness and virtue.
When it comes to forgiving deeper wounds, I recommend turning your hurt and pain into intercession. Pray for those who have deeply hurt you, offer sacrifices for them and offer your communion for them. Finally, ask God for the grace to forgive your neighbor even though you may not feel ready to forgive him or her. Asking God for the desire to forgive is already a very powerful way to drive aways the demons of hatred and resentment who want to torment your soul.
“ The mercy we practice in family life takes many forms. We encourage, we support, we carry one another. But the most necessary form of mercy is the ability to forgive. It’s not always easy to forgive, but it is necessary. If there is no forgiveness in a couple’s relationship, if there is no forgiveness among family members, problems start to multiply. Sufferings of all kinds develop and create walls that separate us from each other. On the other hand, if day after day we forgive, ordinary relations remain possible and love can always be reborn. Forgiveness is not always easy; it is one of the most unselfish acts of love. Forgiveness can also be one of the greatest acts of freedom-the freedom to love even the one who has done you wrong”- Fr. Jacques Phillipe
Practical Ways to Cultivate a Forgiving Heart:
In order to cultivate a forgiving heart, we need to know the truth about ourselves, the truth about God, and the truth about our neighbor.
- Ask for Humility- When we grow in humility, we become more aware of our own brokenness and weaknesses. By developing a deep awareness of our own flaws and shortcomings, we can become more compassionate with the weaknesses of others.
- Encounter God’s Mercy- Let God forgive you and love you in your own brokenness. Remember that God still loves and accepts you even when you sin and stray away from him. God’s love is not dependent on our performance, foster your relationship with him and ground your identity in his merciful gaze.
- Foster Compassion– Strive to be patient and gentle with your neighbor as God is gentle and patient with you.
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.