LENTEN MEDITATION: FORGIVENESS by Protodeacon Theodore Feldman

This is the second article in our Lenten Meditations 2019 series.

expulsion

Brothers and sisters,

God has forgiven us.

Before the foundation of the world, God knew we would turn our backs on Him, grasp the fruit of knowledge and power, and crucify His Son. And yet God created us. Our very creation is forgiveness. Since the beginning, God has continued to forgive us. At the moment when we stood accursed before him, frightened, ashamed, and about to be driven from Paradise, God sewed skins to clothe us in our need, as a mother comforts her children—having already promised us salvation.

Over all of history He has accepted our sacrifices: “the gifts of Abel, the sacrifices of Noah, the whole burnt offerings of Abraham, the priestly offerings of Moses and Aaron, and the peace-offerings of Samuel”—so we recall at Divine Liturgy during Lent. And finally, He accepts even today our Eucharistic service for the forgiveness of our sins.

And so God’s love for us is full of forgiveness. And how could Love not wash us with forgiveness? 

Therefore, if we say that we love one another, as we have been commanded, we must forgive each other. If we want to share in God’s life, we must forgive each other every sin.

We cause true and lasting harm when we sin against each other. Only forgiveness can heal these wounds. Would we rather hold on to the evil that has been done to us, nursing it with resentment, so that it becomes a malevolent guest in our hearts? In that way we enslave ourselves to our brother’s or sister’s sin, perpetuating their evil while adding our own to it. 

Instead, let go of the evil, free ourselves from these chains of bitterness by forgiving the one who hurt us.

During the rite of forgiveness, which many of us practice on Forgiveness Sunday, we may think to ourselves, “I hardly know this person—how can it make sense to ask forgiveness when I’ve had so little contact with him or her?” But our every sin disfigures the entire creation. So we must ask forgiveness of every creature in God’s world. 

And since no act of ours—except the act itself of forgiving—is not tainted by our self-love, nor a single instant of our time, we could spend all of eternity forgiving and asking forgiveness. 

So let us make at least a beginning here and now, in the community of our parish.

See our Call for Meditations if you would like to write for this series.
You may wish to bookmark our Triodion & Pentecostarion 2019 for easy reference.

Protodeacon Theodore Feldman holds master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics and history from the University of California at Berkeley. He has written on the relationship between faith and science for The Wheel (issue 11). He is assigned to Holy Trinity Cathedral (OCA) in Boston MA.

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