From Head to Toe…
Like a new wardrobe, the virtues of our faith should completely change how we appear to the rest of the world:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.” -Colossians 3:12-13, NAB
Our temper and demeanor must change when we begin a new life with Christ. For some, being patient, compassionate, and gentle come naturally. For others, this may take a little more work. Even if it is difficult, our total attitude towards life must change.
With a renewed, compassionate, passionate, and gentle outlook, one way our new heart manifests itself is through our forgiveness of others. This can be one of the most difficult things for us to do, especially when the wounds are deep; however, this is not an option for us. We are commanded to forgive, regardless of the grievance.
Forgiveness is difficult, but isn’t there a limit to our forgiveness? We only have to forgive someone so much before they have reached their limit, right? Wrong. Just as Christ’s forgiveness is limitless for us, we should forgive without limits as well. In Matthew 18, Christ tells Peter just how much we should forgive:
Then Peter approaching asked (Jesus), ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.’ -Matthew 18:21-22, NAB
Okay, so 77 times then? No. Some translations actually say 7 x 70 times. So, 490 times then? The answer is still no. What Christ was trying to tell Peter is that there should be no limit to our forgiveness. Jesus picked such a ridiculous number that it tells us we should not even keep track. When we forgive, we should not be keeping count.
As Catholics, we should stand out from the crowd. Our faith should clothe us in the heavenly virtues of compassion, kindness, and humility. The whole world should be able to see God’s grace through our grace towards others. Faith is not simply a personal belief, but something that should be lived outwardly. And, our faith manifests itself in no better way than through the kindness and compassion we show others through forgiveness.
Let God’s light shine through you by the forgiveness that you show others. No matter how deep the wounds may be, it is time to forgive those who have hurt you. Hopefully, those that you have hurt will show you some measure of the same compassion.