Why do so many refuse to forgive?
Listening to a person who continues to use disparaging remarks about those they cannot tolerate because of beliefs contrary to their own can be disheartening. Their use of these comments are especially condemning since most are directed at siblings and the result usually becomes a sharp spoken confrontation between two or more brothers and sisters who otherwise should seek a common ground of peace.
Unfortunately we are caught in the middle of the onslaught attempting to have us take sides. Usually my wife and I listen without making any judgements but not being silent on issues that must be corrected when it comes to God and the certainty of specific dogmas that are challenged to suit their reasons for mistaken interpretations that do not agree with the Catholic Catechism.
An objective this person has is the feeling of hatred towards another who is in a stern demand to have God punish these adversaries and soon. The course of action they demand is that God should quickly take their advice and do more than correct their enemies’ wrong doing; according to their interpretation of justice.
The obvious excuse they use for requesting Jesus to not use a welcome mat, when he comes again, for the so called sins of those they disagree with, but to cast them into hell because of their continued opposition to what is right; according to the know-it-alls.
We suggest that disagreements with others is not a reason to allow hatred to become a stumbling block and should not present itself as a reason not to forgive them. However, this has not been a condition to allow the age-tested wisdom shine forth. Jesus came into the world, not to perform miracles, but to bring the love his Father has for all of his children. The impact for forgiveness is seen over and over many times from Jesus in parables, and the final example was on the cross. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23: 34).
One of their spurious comments reaches the fact that its ok to not forgive and God will have to deal with me for that. Hearing this comment leaves an empty feeling since this person had a catholic education and is very intelligent. They talk a lot about the siblings and other persons who may disagree with their views and are quick to condemn her adversaries’ disagreements. One very discouraging outlook is the dogmatic teaching of forgiveness found in the cardinal virtues of prudence and justice.
“Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance to choose the right means of achieving it; the prudent man looks where he is going.” (CCC 1806).
“Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the virtue of religion. Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.” (CCC 1807).
By these two cardinal virtues we can see the very sustenance of Jesus’ teaching on God’s forgiveness. When we say that God is Love, his love signifies the very essence of mercy and forgives each one when we seek that attribute from Him.
From the Sermon on the Mount; “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Mt. 6: 14 - 15).
When we use sacred scripture to make a point be careful we understand the depth of the words we quote so as not to take the true meaning out of context.
Ralph B. Hathaway, The Truth of Forgiveness.