How to forgive like Jesus

Quote of the Day

“There are many kinds of alms the giving of which helps us to obtain pardon for our sins; but none is greater than that by which we forgive from our heart a sin that someone committed against us.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo, as quoted in A Dictionary of Quotes from the Saints by Paul Thigpen.

Today’s 99-Word Contemplation

Today, God whispered softly to me. I heard Him in the wind and from the child who laughed aloud as his father bounced him on his knee. I heard Him through the homeless man who asked for help and when He asked the sun to provide me warmth. I failed to hear Him, however, when He asked me to forgive you. “Father, please forgive me, as I come prayerfully to You today asking forgiveness for my trespasses in the same manner as I forgive those who trespass against me. Help others to hear Your voice within my humble confession.”

Today’s Reflection

Sometimes I feel a little guilty for holding on to anger and bitterness toward someone who I feel has wronged me in some (usually small) manner. I feel guilty because I know God expects me to forgive others of their wrongdoings against me.

One quick recitation of the Lord’s Prayer is all it takes to clearly understand this simple truth. Or a quick glance at Matthew 6:15, which states, “But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (NABRE)

“The sign of sincere love is to forgive wrongs done to us. It was with such love that the Lord loved the world.”

St. Mark the Ascetic

Why, then, is it sometimes so difficult for me to forgive others? I mean, it’s not like I don’t know that I must prayerfully “let it go” in order to heal and move forward as a new and improved version of myself.

If I were a gambler, I’d bet that you have felt the same way at some point your not-so-distant past too, right? Well of course you have! We all struggle with forgiveness, thanks to our sinful nature and Satan’s eagerness to take advantage of any crack in our armor that he discovers.

When I am finding it particularly difficult to forgive someone, I realize it is almost always a direct result of me having failed to listen for God’s voice. For when I listen for his voice – and I mean truly listen for His voice – He is ever-present and eager to direct me in His will.

And His will is for me to forgive others. Always. Luke 17:4 reads, “And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ you should forgive him. (NABRE)

I emphasize “almost always” in the above paragraph intentionally. For, I will admit, sometimes I hear God’s voice loud and clear, yet simply choose to ignore him.

Now, before you go getting any ideas, let me go on record right here and say that intentionally ignoring God never turns out well! Oh, the stories I could tell . . . but that is a story for another day.

I digress.

Back to the point: I must learn to always adhere to God’s word and to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit which will guide me always. Doing so will provide me the strength and courage needed to forgive others.

To that end, I am still learning to quieten my mind in order to allow the Holy Spirit to converse with me so that I might more quickly and purely forgive others when they have wronged me.

My job is simply to listen for His voice and, after prayerful discernment, submit to His will in all things.

Five methods God has utilized to speak to me through the Holy Spirit

  • In the wind.
  • While reading scripture.
  • During Eucharistic adoration.
  • In the lyrics of a song
  • Through conversations (especially with strangers)

All I had to do to benefit from the Holy Spirit’s guidance was to quieten the noise in my head and listen! (Yes, how I quieten the noise in my head will be another day’s story, too, as it is a very important skill to master.)

But how do you know if it is the Holy Spirit guiding you?

Never forget this: Satan will always try to twist God’s word or go against it completely. The Holy Spirit, however, never contradicts the Word of God (i.e., the scripture written in the Holy Bible). And the Holy Spirit prefers to speak quietly, intimately, and provide us with comfort and peace will guiding us in our journey to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul.

Shhh, Listen – did you here thaT?

In the wind

The wind carries all kinds of auditory stimuli that the Holy Spirit may choose to speak to me. Take bird songs, for example.

Bird songs are one of my favorite methods the Holy Spirit makes use of via the wind. For example, with the noise of the world out of my head, I often find myself reflecting on God’s will in my life when, out of nowhere, a songbird will sing out God’s praises with all its splendor. Before I know it, I too am prayerfully singing out my praises to God, for in that moment he has almost instantly provided me the answer in which I was in search of. The bird and I often look at each other just before it flies off to preach another sermon to another needy soul.

It is at this point I often have a true sense of understanding to whom I was just conversing with.

How?

Because the Holy Spirit speaks in a language that only my soul understands. Thus, the guidance I needed from Him was placed on my heart, gently and lovingly. My mental (i.e., cognitive) understanding of His will then manifests itself so that God’s plan can be implemented by me with the integrity it deserves.

“The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  —

Jesus Christ, John 3:8 (NABRE)
  • WHIle reading scripture

Lectio Divina is the practice of meditating on scripture readings, with all scripture being considered the Living Word of God.

For example, I read in John 13:1-20 of the washing of the disciples’ feet. Utilizing Lectio Divina, I read the versus aloud slowly and with great meditation. Upon reading all 20 versus, I then contemplated on the one verse that really struck home with me, which was verse 15, which states, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (NABRE)

I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit placed this living verse of scripture on my heart for contemplation. It was exactly what I needed to hear in order to heal from the anger and frustration I was feeling that day. “Model Christ,” I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me.

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NABRE)

  • During Eucharistic Adoration

Being Catholic, Eucharistic Adoration is a quiet time in which I can spend one-on-one time with God. While sitting silently in His presence, whether in prayer or in a purposefully empty state of mind, I have perceived the Holy Spirit speaking to me on many occasions.

On one such occasion, the Holy Spirit guided me on how to draw myself closer to God on an everyday basis, and, as a result, closer to God’s will for my life. It was made clear to me by the Holy Spirit that I was to accomplish this by living a more penitential lifestyle.

Living this lifestyle keeps God on mind throughout the day. It had never crossed my mind to do so. But the Holy Spirit had other intentions and knew my needs before I did. I listened to God’s will for my life and have never been happier (or closer) in my relationship to Him.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Matthew 26;26 (NABRE)
  • In the lyrics of a song

I love music of all genres. I have been to more concerts than the Rolling Stones. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Oftentimes, I find myself softly singing the lyrics to a song that I have known for a long time. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, a single line from the song’s lyrics will jump out to me and help counsel me precisely as needed.

This is one of my favorite ways the Holy Spirit guides me to living God’s will for my life.

Sing to him a new song; skillfully play with joyful chant.

pSALM 33:3 (nabre)
  • Through conversations

I am a people person (you’ve probably guessed that by now).

When my family and I go on vacations, I prefer to drive in lieu of taking a flight. I prefer driving because I can make random stops at restaurants, parks (especially parks!), gas stations, etc., and meet the locals.

I often walk away from talking with these complete strangers with a refreshed outlook on life. Perhaps they will say something that triggers a great conversation with my wife, for example. On many occasions, the conversation that was triggered by a stranger sparked me into action.

That’s an awesome Holy Spirit! Putting me to work to lead other’s to God’s will for their lives! It doesn’t get any better than that.

No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (NABRE)

Forgiving by loving

Jesus provides us with the two most important commandments in Matthew 22:36-40: “…Love the Lord God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind … and love thy neighbor as thyself.” (NABRE)

For me to truly forgive someone of their trespasses against me is to follow Christ’s example and commandment.

Imitating Christ should always be our number one priority. To imitate Christ, I must first love God fully with all my heart, soul, and mind. I must then love my neighbor as myself. And I can’t love my neighbor as myself if I am holding onto anger and resentment.

Through prayer, through determination, through love, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit – I forgive all who have wronged me in my past, today, and in the future.

And, just as importantly, I forgive myself. I am determined to be a better person today than I was yesterday. A better reflection of Christ’s Love.

Today’s Supporting Scripture Versus for Additional *Contemplation (NABRE)

*When contemplating scripture, rest your thoughts and simply love, and allow yourself to respond to God’s love. That is, we are allowing the scripture to permeate us in order to grow closer to God.

Note: The New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) can be found online at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/search=Genesis+1&version=NABRE

  1. Mark 11:25: When you stand up to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your Heavenly Father may in turn forgive your transgressions.
  2. Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many even times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
  3. Luke 6:37: Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.
  4. Ephesians 4:32: [And] be kind to one another; compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
  5. Colossians 3:12-13: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, if one has a grievance against the other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
  6. 1 Peter 4:8: Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.
  7. John 13:34-35: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Today’s Supporting Links for Additional *Meditation

* When meditating on scriptures, articles, and other forms of media, we are actively engaging in cognition (i.e., we are actively thinking). That is, we are studying the material in order to learn.

  1. https://catholicexchange.com/learning-forgive-saints
  2. http://catholicbible101.com/theholyspirit.htm
  3. https://www.learnreligions.com/gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-542143
  4. http://catholicdaily.com/2019/06/06/forgiveness-the-holy-spirits-gift-to-be-given-to-others/
  5. http://www.acatholic.org/forgiveness-through-the-holy-spirit/
  6. https://catholiccourier.com/articles/forgiveness-through-the-spirit
  7. https://www.a-spiritual-journey-of-healing.com/holy-spirit-prayer.html
  8. https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/2019/04/29/the-effects-of-the-holy-spirit-2/
  9. https://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=26940
  10. https://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=4125

Today’s Prayer for healing

Dear God, please help me to forgive this person for hurting my feelings. Help me to see the greatness in [him] and to love [him] the way that You do. Help me to relinquish the anger that I’m experiencing so that I can walk in the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Help me to heal from this incident and to release any bitterness that I may be harboring. Please give me guidance in this situation, Holy Spirit, so that I can approach it in the way that is most pleasing to You. Help me God to do Your will. Thank You, and in Jesus’ mighty name, I pray.
Amen.

Note: This prayer was found at http://dailyprayer.us/prayers/forgiveness.php

2 Comments

    1. I agree Autumn. There is so much noise in the world today that it is easy to forget to stop and listen for His voice in the world around us. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Listen for His whisper today! Peace be with you, always.

      Like

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