Sunday, March 23, 2014

Entertaining a distorted notion of forgiveness, some demand a license to perpetrate wrongs on others...

"..Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.”b 9* And Jesus said to him, “Today salvationc has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. 10* d For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19: 8, 9).

So many people today, including sadly those who profess to be Catholic, possess a distorted notion of the Christian spirit of forgiveness.  There are those, for example, who want nothing less than a license to perpetrate wrongs on others while demanding forgiveness from those they have offended without first repenting of their wrongdoing.

But where there are bonds of friendship or love, as D. Dietrich von Hildebrand explains, " is strictly required by the logos of the relationship that our partner shall recognize and regret the wrong he has done to us....Most certainly we must forgive him..but here we must desire that he recognize and repent of his wrong, not merely for his own good but for the sake of our relationship itself - of the restoration of that intimate union of hearts which essentially demands the clearing up of all misunderstandings and the healing of all disharmonies.."

We can never achieve true peace by ignoring objective evils.  Dr. von Hildebrand explains that, "the attitude of rancorous enmity is not the only antithesis to the Christian spirit of forgiveness.  Another attitude opposed to it is that of simply ignoring the wrong inflicted upon us, as though nothing had happened.  This aberration may result from laziness, from faintness of heart, or from a sickly, mawkish clinging to outward peace.  We hold our comfort too dear to fight it out with our aggressor; or again, we feel terrified at the thought of any tension or hostility, and fear lest a sharp reaction on our part should exasperate the adversary; or perhaps we yield just out of respect for the abstract idol of peace.  This is  akind of behavior far remote from the genuine love of peace or from a genuine spirit of forgiveness.  It can never achieve the true harmony of peace, but at best a superficial cloaking of enmity, a mood of false joviality which drags our souls towards the peripheral...Also, people who behave thus fail to consider the moral damage that their supineness is likely to inflict on others.  It is very often necessary to draw a person's attention to the wrong he has done to us - in fact, necessary for his own good.  To pass over it in silence may easily encourage him in his bad dispositions."

This used to be understood by nearly all Christians.  But today, ignorance of the Scriptures has infected even many of our clergy.  In the Gospel of Luke, Our Lord says, ",,if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." (Lk 17: 3, 4).

If he repents.  The word "if" in this sentence makes this a conditional statement.  Those of you who have studied philosophy or mathematics know that a conditional statement is often used to assert a connection of some sort between the antecedent and consequent.  For example, an equation which states "if X = 5 and Y = 3, then X times Y = 15 represents a conditional statement.  When Jesus says, "If your brother sins [against you] and if he repents, forgive him," He is saying that authentic reconciliation involves, first of all, repentance for wrongs committed. 

Reconciliation is not possible otherwise.  Only what Dr. von Hildebrand so eloquently refers to as a "superficial cloaking of enmity."  As Christians, we are called to an authentic Christian spirit of forgiveness.  We are not called to live a lie.  While we must always forgive those who have wronged us, glossing over wrongs committed or pretending they never happened is not the road toward authentic reconciliation.

1 comment:

PETER S said...

The writing's on the wall, cardinal against cardinal as Our Lady of Akita said. Cardinal Burke recently declared that Card. Kasper has made a grave error.

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