In From Brokenness to Community Jean Vanier writes;
At the heart of community, as we learn to care for our brothers ans sisters, there is forgiveness. Reconciliation is at the heart of community. To grow in love means that we become men and women of forgiveness, of reconciliation.
Living as people of the Gospel requires attention to love, working for justice, and a commitment to Jesus’example of non-violence. It also requires that our commitment to love effusively produce a life that is marked by a willingness to forgive. In Lent we enter further into the story of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Entering fully into that story requires us to enter more fully into a life of repentance and forgiveness. The more willing we are to seek another’s forgiveness coupled with more willingness to offer forgiveness to another, the more faithful we become in discipleship to Jesus.
In Psalm 103 we are reminded that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” We are a people who are given forgiveness. We are a people who have a God who does not hold onto anger or resentment.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19
When you pray, if you remember anyone who has wronged you, forgive him so that God above can also forgive you. – Mark 11:25
Our communities suffer greatly when we withhold forgiveness, when we harbour resentment, and anger toward others. We as individuals suffer incalculable harm when we are unwilling to forgive. We hold ourselves captives, suffering in our own cell of envy and hate. It is a soul-sucking place to reside. God wills something more for us. God wills freedom and peace for us. God wills that we know the strength of being a part of a community that reflects perfect love in the form of the Body of Christ. As Vanier reminds us, growing in that love means becoming increasingly a people of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Today we might reflect on whether we need to seek forgiveness from another. Equally, if not more pressing, today we can reflect on be released from the prison whose walls are buttressed with a stubborn unwillingness to forgive another. Who do you need to forgive?