Advent Reflections – December 17, 2015

Capable of Great Forgiveness: Mary in Scripture

While we don’t have any recorded Scripture passages of Mary saying “I forgive you,” we do have one scenario in particular that I believe she would have said those words.

Imagine, if you will, losing your child for a brief moment in a grocery store. For any parent, the panic sets in rather quickly. Your head starts swiveling, you eyes quickly scanning around you, trying not to appear too frantic as you urgently whisper-yell their name. Your cute bob of curls pokes his head out from behind the next aisle, holding up his favorite box of cereal – “Mommy! Let’s bring this home!”

Now take that situation, with it’s quick onrush of emotions, and lengthen it by 5 days. That is how long Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus. The Gospel of Luke tells us they looked for him 1 day among their relatives as they began their journey home from Jerusalem. When they couldn’t find him, they had to travel that full length back, day 2. Then, after 3 days scouring the city, they finally found him in the Temple.

temple
Image by William Holman Hunt

 

Personally, I can only begin to imagine the panic, fear, frustration and desperation Mary and Joseph must have endured. Even if he was the Son of God and had his own explanation for his absence, I hope he still apologized for the grief he put his mother and father through. Mary’s example of motherly love is clear. She did not withhold her forgiveness from her son.

Is there anyone I have been withholding my forgiveness from? Pray for the courage to reach out you hand in peace and forgiveness, rather than in judgment and anger.

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?