Tuesday, April 13

Reflections on Forgiveness

After a few discussions and some thoughtful reflection, I thought I may wish to discuss forgiveness a bit more in full. This is not a credo, for it is less formal and less 'finished' in the thought process. Rather, it is how I feel on the matter and what works specifically for me. Your Milage May Vary.

It is common for there to be a strong emphasis on forgiveness in the Christian faith, with the 'turn the other cheek' replacing the older 'eye for an eye'. This puts me in a conundrum.

On the one hand, the idea of forgiveness feels right - we're all on the journey to greater perfection and knowledge of the Divine. If we regard sin as error, then to forgive comes naturally. From a more traditional perspective, "and forgive us our sins as we also forgive those are indebted to us". (Luke 11:4) Note that Luke uses the word ἁμαρτίας, amartias - our sins are mistakes, missing the mark. Note the other word here, ὀφείλοντι opheilonti, which translates to either 'who is indebted' or 'to owe'. Given it's modern meaning, I prefer the second translation.

So, we ask the Divine to forgive our mistakes as we forgive those who owe us. Turning this around, we should forgive people who owe us as our Father forgives us for making mistakes. Alright, then, how does that work?

Well, the Divine understands us more intimately than we understand ourselves. It knows where we've made mistakes and our reasons why. For myself, at least, having an idea why a person has done the things they have allows me a better perspective on them, their situation and puts me in a better place to forgive. This can be a difficult process, but I find that it is also quite pathos generating (especially for someone like myself who can easily be overly-detached).

Secondly, for us to be forgiven, we have to be contrite. That means you're to step three in the reconciliation process. If you don't recognize the situation or claim your part in it, then there's no forgiveness. Same goes with others and us. If they don't recognize the situation or acknowledge that they messed up, then they can't truly be contrite. No contrition, no doughnut forgiveness.

Your thoughts are welcome.


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