Lenten Message From the Conventual Prior
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FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION
Scott Peck, author of the bestselling book “The Road Less Travelled,” opens his inspirational work with the following line: “Life is difficult.” Indeed, life is difficult because we are beset with many problems and crises that we find difficult to handle. Most of them are the hurts we experience in relationships. We are hurt and wounded for a number of reasons: disappointment, rejection, betrayal, humiliation, or abuse. For whatever reason, our hurts cause us deep pain in our lives that negatively affect our normal way of living and relating to others. For some, the deep emotional wounds cause unhappiness in their lives.
In order to remedy an already unhappy situation, a number of people cope with their hurts in varied ways. For instance, when one is hurt, an instant solution is to hurt back. Vengeance seems to be an easy way out to appease one’s feelings. But the sad reality is that one enters an even vicious cycle of hurting and wounding. Others resort to withdrawing from relationships. But the disparity in relationship widens to become an irreconcilable difference. There are those who just sulk and indulge in too much self-pity, always feeling victimized by their enemies. They end up feeling losers, alienated, and depressed. Finally, a number of those who are hurt harbour grudges.
What is the real remedy to our deep pains born out of broken human relationships? What is the only effective solution to our hurts? It is forgiveness leading to reconciliation. Jesus teaches: “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:22-24).
We have a typical example of forgiveness and reconciliation in chapter 33 of the Book of Genesis which speaks about the reconciliation between Esau and Jacob. Jacob escapes from his father-in-law Laban and comes to Canaan, his father Isaac’s land. He knows that he had cheated his brother Esau and took away his rights. He was afraid that his brother would kill him on meeting him. So he devised many plans to please his brother to escape from his anger. Esau sincerely forgave Jacob.
After experiencing Esau’s forgiveness, Jacob says to Esau: “Truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God.” To see the face of one who forgives is like seeing the face of God. How many times, God has given us the opportunity to show His face to those who live in our communities and families by forgiving them their offences towards us! Let us look into ourselves and see how many times we have failed to let others see God’s face through our forgiveness.
I wish you all a fruitful Lenten season!