The part of the Paschal Mystery that we celebrate on Good Friday is God’s victory over sin and death. By the death of Jesus on the cross, we have access to the Father’s love and forgiveness.
How difficult it is to forgive. Especially an intimate friend who has betrayed us or a loved one who has hurt us deeply. When we are hurt, we tend to look for opportunities to even the score and cling tightly to our resentment. We even seem to find pleasure in holding another’s fault over his or her head.
But if it is difficult to forgive, it is also difficult to accept forgiveness, especially when we don’t deserve to be forgiven. Forgiveness is always a gift; it always involves love. Then why is it so difficult to accept?
The difficulty comes because it is freely given and can’t be earned or controlled. There is something in us that wants to control love and decide who can love us and how they should love us. We would rather be unforgiven yet still masters of our soul than to submit to the uncertain transforming power of another’s forgiveness and love.
We are confronted today with the mystery of God’s forgiveness. God knows what it means to be betrayed by a friend, to be rejected by his chosen people, to be hung on a cross for bringing hope into the world. Yet even that could not defeat God’s longing to forgive, to pour out his love.
We are also confronted today with the mystery of our own ability to accept forgiveness. That, too, is a gift from God that no one can take from us if we accept it.
The cross is our guarantee that God will always offer forgiveness. It is also our guarantee that he has given us the power to accept it, to let it transform us and make us whole, make us into one Body, the Body we revere today.
Reflection by Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB