Trying to forgive, especially to forgive the injustices of others, is a daunting task.
In the Gospel reading today, Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive his enemy. Jesus tells him “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times”, and continues to tell the parable of a king and the debts of his servants to him. While the parable is not the most uplifting, it explains an important truth: to be forgiven by God for our wrongdoing, we must be able to forgive the wrongdoing of others.
Think of all the times in our lives when we have needed to forgive others or be forgiven by those who we have wronged.
It is much easier said than done, right?
Through my participation with Carroll Ballers, a program at John Carroll University that provides mentoring to girls in the local juvenile detention center through basketball, I have practiced forgiveness with a population I would have never expected: incarcerated juveniles.
When we live in a country where 2.3 million people are incarcerated and of that, some 60,000 of those are juveniles, it is hard to offer forgiveness to others, especially those whose choices have been vastly different from your own. It is much easier to take the human being out of a story, and only hear the wrong they’ve done.
But, when I remember that these girls are teenagers, just as I was a couple of years ago, but teenagers whose childhoods have been vastly different than mine was, with hardships including communities troubled with gang violence, institutionalized racism, food insecurity, trafficking, and homelessness (to name a few), it makes it much easier to offer that forgiveness. Sometimes, you need to break the wall between yourself and another person, learn their story, and find the human being in that story.
Once you do that, it will be shocking how much easier it is to forgive and, in turn, be forgiven.
- From whom have you asked for forgiveness? Who have you been unable to forgive?
- Where do you find it hard to find forgiveness in the media? How can you act on that to make a change?
- How will you shed light on the humanity of each person you see, rather than see them as a story or rumor?
Anna Masica is a current sophomore at John Carroll University. She is majoring in Marketing and minoring in Peace, Justice, & Human Rights and Entrepreneurship. She is originally from Wadsworth, Ohio and went to high school at Archbishop Hoban High School. Her main focuses in social justice started in high school when she caught wind of the Fair Trade Movement, and since then, she has taken immersion trips to New Orleans, LA and Guatemala. She participates in weekly service through John Carroll and the Carroll Ballers and is active on campus with the Arrupe Scholars program, WJCU, and Campus Ministry.