Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Why Forgive?"

1) 12:45 Mass for Life this Friday, Jan. 22, at the Newman center chapel. All are welcome. GW students who haven't signed up to join us for lunch and to go to the March need to sign up today!

2) Ski Trip to Whitetail Ski Resort for night skiing: Sat, Jan 30, 3:00-11:00pm. $50without equipment/$30 with equipment, food not provided). RSVP by today!

3) Retreat - Feb 12-14. Sign-ups have begun for our retreat, "No Greater Love", which will be in Southern Maryland. Cost is $50. Open to all GW students. Please email Meg if interested.
The past two nights I have led discussions on the topic of forgiveness; Monday night was in a residence hall and last night was at the Newman Center. I was very impressed with the respect, questions, and insights of the students who attended. Also, they had solid suggestions for topics in the coming weeks. Here are my notes from the talk, "Why Forgive?" Additional comments and questions are welcome here.

Why Forgive?
I. Time Magazine cover in early 1980s of Pope John Paul II forgiving man who tried to kill him with headline: “Why Forgive?”

II. Why should God forgive?
- Original Sin
- Sins that followed against 10 commandments
“after that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin. There is Cain’s
murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which follows in
the wake of sin. Likewise, sin frequently manifests itself in the history of
Israel, especially as infidelity to the God of the Covenant and as
transgression of the Law of Moses” (CCC, #401)
- Persecution against prophets God sends
- Why send Christ to forgive us??

- God’s essence: mercy/ love (God is Mercy; God is Love)
- God cannot NOT forgive; God cannot NOT love

- He is Father Almighty with “infinite mercy, for he displays his power at
its height by freely forgiving sins” (CCC, # 270)
- Father of Prodigal Son, e.g.

- God is Love; “the first effect of the gift of love is the forgiveness of sins”
(CCC, #734)

- infinite wisdom / providence
When He created us, He knew that we would sin / reject Him
- His Plan from all eternity was to forgive us
- not caught off guard by our sin / need for forgiveness

- God forgives us because of our dignity
- created in his own image and likeness
- we are the only creatures made in his image
- “ “ who receive the fullness of His mercy
(course, we are only ones who sin so offensively against Him)

- greatest sign of God’s mercy in the world
- even within that, “Father, forgive them, …”

III. Why should we forgive? (to live God’s mercy)

a. others
Story of the family of a murdered priest offering friendship and forgiveness to the family of the murderer at the trial

- to be forgiven by God – Our Father
- we’re not perfect…why hold others to perfection
- God doesn’t hold grudges against us if we’re sorry
- we shouldn’t hold grudges
- to be God-like (most Christ-like when forgive)
- what it means to be a Christian
- “defining moments” – people / families / counseling
- dignity / respect of human person
- Jesus says so
- forgive not seven times, but “seventy times seven times” (Mt 18:22)
- forgive always; limitless mercy
- radical forgiveness
- live God’s (radical, unlimited) mercy
- FG’s stories / examples – forgiving murder (seventy times seven)
- our own healing
VA TECH massacre, e.g.

b. ourselves
- Healing

-confessing sin from past confessions: LET IT GO!
- God forgives us, others have forgiven us, need to forgive
ourselves (hardest part of process)


- Healing of wounds
- lighter burdens
- peace

IV. Why should the Church forgive?
- to extend God’s (radical, unlimited mercy)

- “there is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive” (CCC, #982)
- “the Church is the sacrament, that is to say, the sign and means of reconciliation in different ways…which all come together to obtain what the divine initiative of mercy desires to grant to humanity” (JP II document: Reconciliation and Penance, #11)
- “means of the divine initiative of mercy”
- i.e., God forgives through the Church
- Power of forgiveness to Church; Mt 16 + Jn 20
- w/out Church, wouldn’t have God’s forgiveness, wouldn't know Christ, wouldn’t know about God / have sacraments

- God has given the Church the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18)
- continues Christ’s ministry
- begun with Christ
- done in Christ

- through the Church, we are reconciled to God and each other

- “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (very similar to Christ’s prayer at Crucifixion, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”)
- Church and Christ are one

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