We are taught from a young age about the act of forgiveness and how we should follow the teachings of the gospel in order to live a life dedicated to the faith of Christianity. Growing up, I too was taught about forgiveness and I think I interpreted that act as a humble deed that can bring us self-gratification. Recently, however, I have struggled with the idea of forgiveness and how we can truly dedicate ourselves to a teaching that is often simplified for the sake of understanding or practicing our faith.
I retreated to the serene haven of the Texas hill-country a couple of weeks ago along with the many mid-west Jesuit volunteers. It gave me time to reflect while being disconnected from the world of technology, social media, and the everyday distractions of a daily routine. It gave me time to think about what I once considered a simple act: forgiveness.
We must not just believe in forgiveness for the sake of blindly following the gospel. In yesterday’s second reading, Paul is reminiscent of the gospel preached unto us the way it was received by him. He states that we will be saved unless we believe the gospel in vain. He reiterates how Christ died for our sins, and in that way, reminds us about the idea of forgiveness.
Later, Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.” I am what I am. His grace to me has not been ineffective. We can ask God for the grace to forgive others and it allows us to be who we really are. I want to be able to forgive those who violate human rights, commit sex offenses against others, or perform heinous war crimes but do not think I am ready. I am still on this journey of understanding how to forgive. I know that this process of discernment and being critical of what I once considered a simple act will highlight the grace I was granted by God.
- How can we forgive those who have truly caused so much harm, pain, or suffering?
- How can we forgive those who commit grave sins against our bodies?
- How can we forgive those who willingly undertake sins that trespass against humanity?
Carlos Rodriguez is a graduate of Seattle University where he earned a B.A. in Public Affairs. As the former Student Body President, he has used his position to talk about issues related to immigration, affordable housing, and homelessness. He has been vocal about his status as an Undocumented immigrant in hopes of bringing awareness to the complexity of immigration in the United States. Carlos is known for wearing a scarlet “U” signifying how an Undocumented status, which has been largely stigmatized in the U.S., is branded onto the lives of many Undocumented immigrants. Currently, he is a Jesuit Volunteer serving as an Anti-Trafficking and Immigration Specialist.