Advent Reflections – December 16, 2015

Capable of Great Forgiveness: The Reality of Motherhood

Any parent knows that one of the biggest lessons a child must learn is how to ask for and receive forgiveness. The forgiveness a mother can offer, especially to her children, is almost magical in its ability to wipe away the tears and problems of minutes before. There is something remarkable about the calming, soothing sound of “I forgive you. I love you.” Rather than seeking to judge, a mother is quick to forgive her children.

I believe the power in the lesson of forgiveness truly shows itself when the tables are turned. Moms aren’t perfect and there are days that they are the ones that need to seek forgiveness. It’s certainly not an easy pill to swallow. Asking for forgiveness means recognizing that you messed up, you were in the wrong. It means validating the other person, their feelings, and their basic human dignity and worth. We don’t apologize to a plant. We may say “sorry” to a pet but there is not an acknowledgement or exchange, they don’t forgive us back. The basic act of forgiveness requires two people, the forgiver and the one forgiven.

Forgiveness is one of the signs of God’s Kingdom present among us. In his announcement of the Year of Mercy (which began last week on Dec. 8), Pope Francis said:

How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God…May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.

How do you practice forgiveness? As the Year of Mercy begins, in what ways can you become a better practitioner of forgiveness?

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