Power of Forgiveness

exploring the power and nature of forgiveness

  • Something Entirely Different

    ” . . . God likes us so much that he has, in a sense, made available in our midst a way to dis-entangle us from the mess we inhabit, before we even knew that it was a mess, and instead has invited us to share with God, at the same level as ourselves, in making something entirely different, together.” –James Alison, Undergoing God: dispatches from the scene of the break-in “What about justice?,” is a question I have fielded often. If God’s forgiveness is indeed endless (or so I say), how will that lead to justice? Doesn’t forgiveness let offenders off the hook? How will things be made right? These are reasonable questions, often conveying the deepest respect and compassion for those victimized. Such...

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  • Where All of Us Belong(s)

      As we rise early on this Good Friday morning, I imagine that Simon Peter has not yet slept. Last night at dinner he insisted that even if one of the other disciples would betray Jesus, he would not. In the ensuing argument over who was the greatest, the strongest, and the most faithful, he had not given an inch. It was Jesus himself who had punctured his friend’s intensity: “Simon . . . Simon . . . listen. Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat.” Simon Peter’s vulnerability, fallibility, and his common condition with all the others were fact. Jesus continued: “But I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned...

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  • Memorial Day Reflection

      When you visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, you descend a pathway at the base of two black granite walls inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 American servicepeople who died in that war.  The two walls form a kind of broad “V,”  like wings, one pointing south toward the nearby Lincoln Memorial , the other northward almost directly at the Washington Monument.  The Memorial is set into the earth, and as you walk from either direction the height of the wall increases along with the number of names.  The site becomes a place of deep devotion and heart-rending reflection for those who enter.  People set flowers, pictures, and other items at the foot of the wall near the names of their...

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  • Not As The World Gives: gratitude for the peacemaking life of Daniel Berrigan

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” –John 14:27 On the first Sunday in May, I woke early for prayer and final preparation of a dialogue sermon on peace. The text was to be John 14:23-29, with particular attention to verse 27. Jesus gifts his disciples with peace in the midst of the most frightening and dangerous of times. He bestows his peace in a way and with a substance radically different than the “peace” purportedly offered by the world. Upon rising I received the news that Daniel Berrigan had died that Saturday, just short of his 95th birthday. I realized that Dan’s life was an extraordinary exposition of the peace...

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  • Mourning as an Act of Courage and Resistance

    “Trauma inevitably brings loss . . . The survivor frequently resists mourning , not only out of fear but also out of pride. She may consciously refuse to grieve as a way of denying victory to the perpetrator. In this case it is important to reframe the (person’s) mourning as an act of courage rather than humiliation. To the extent that the (person) is unable to grieve, she is cut off from a part of herself and robbed of an important part of her healing. Reclaiming the ability to feel the full range of emotions, including grief, must be understood as an act of resistance rather than submission to the perpetrator’s intent. Only through mourning everything she has lost can (she) discover her indestructible inner...

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  • At the Bottom of Things, Love

    “Sometimes, in order to be human, we have to hold G-d fully accountable, for existence, for sin, for suffering. And then we discover, like Job, at the bottom of things there is only this accountability, limitless, for everything, everlasting, otherwise known as love. But to get there we have to be human first, like Jesus.” –Anthony Bartlett

  • Remembrance, Forgiveness, and the Witness of Psychosocial Hope

      “Why is it worth it to continue?,” Patricia Garcia, President of CoMadres in El Salvador, is asked. Paty responds as a survivor of abduction, rape, and torture. She speaks as someone who had to flee from the threat of death even as a child, and as the citizen of a nation still bearing the wounds of horrific violence; someone who has lost family, friends, and fellow members of her community along the way. Yet there is more to her story. From her tender years she was also nurtured in a different way of life, a path of fidelity and love, and she grew to become a key leader in an unquenchable movement for justice and healing in her beautiful and broken land. In this...

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  • Reflections on Forgiveness in the Wake of Charleston

    “You took something precious away from me . . . I will never talk to her again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me and you hurt a lot of people. But I forgive you.” The gracious words from the daughter of Ethel Lance to Lance’s murderer, Dylann Roof, are enough to make one gasp in awe, or perhaps even horror. Roof stood motionless in a video bail hearing as family members of his victims addressed him. “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible Study with open arms,” Felicia Sanders, mother of 26-year-old Tywanzaa Sanders, reminded Roof;”You have killed some of the beautifullest people that I know. Every fiber...

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  • Fore-giveness

    God is a lover who receives everything, forgives everything. The Gospel says, “You will know the mystery of salvation through the forgiveness of sin” (Luke 1:77). “Fore-given” means being given to beforehand, before you earned it, were worthy of it, or maybe even asked for it. Forgiveness breaks down the entire world of meritocracy. –Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

  • Finding the Heart of Forgiveness

    “The heart of forgiveness is not to be found in excusing harm or allowing it to go unchecked. It is found, rather, in choosing to say that although our wounds will change us, we will not allow them to forever define us. Forgiveness does not ask us to forget the wrong done to us but instead to resist the ways it seeks to get its poisonous hooks into us. Forgiveness asks us to acknowledge and reckon with the damage so that we will not live forever in its grip.” —Jan Richardson, in The Painted Prayerbook Image: Forgiving(c) Jan Richardson