A Biblical perspective
One cannot heal or reconcile without forgiveness. To heal is to become healthy again, to mend and recover. Then it would be correct to say that to hold a grudge would make one literally sick. Why do we find it so difficult to reconcile with others? Why can’t we be more like our God, who created us in His image?
In the Parable of the Vineyard and the Tenants (Mk 12), the people listening to the Parable condemn themselves when answering Jesus’ question – He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others.
However, Jesus does not give up on them. He does not give up on us. We are given many opportunities but every time we somehow manage to slam the door in His face. Thankfully, our God is gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
Like the paralytic’s friends in the Parable (Mk 2), can we show kindness, patience, mercy, love and compassion? Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, “Child your sins are forgiven.”
However, the Scribes said – Who but God can forgive sins?
Why then when we pray the Our Father do we say – And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those…
We all can forgive just as our loving Father can. In the words of Micah 7:18-19 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives… you do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
Can we adopt the qualities of our God? God created humanity in His image. He gives us the authority to be more like Him. So, rise up now, at once and show your goodness.
A Community perspective
For healing and reconciliation to take place in a community there needs to be acceptance, openness, honesty and sharing. Everyone needs to do something to play his or her part. A chain is at its strongest when it is linked tightly together. Hence, we as a community need to work together in unity and harmony. Only then can we easily find solutions to problems.
Asking for forgiveness does not make one weak. On the contrary, it builds character. When we find it hard to forgive, we need to look for Jesus inside each other’s hearts. Look for Jesus in each community member and within ourselves. He is surely there, gazing at us lovingly, waiting for us to forgive just as He forgives us.
Where are our eyes focused? We should see others with the eyes of God, with the gaze of love and with the light of love. When we see this light in others, our hearts will be lead to renovation, recreation and transformation.
The best gifts we can give to anyone is making them feel welcome, showing comfort and being understanding. Above all, love is the best medicine within a community. Think about others that are suffering more than we are and help lighten their heavy burdens or let someone help us to be cut free from our worries. We cannot give what we do not have in our hearts, so only once we are healed can we give freely. God loves us, let us show love for others. One of the Beatitudes – Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.
This week is the time to think about our actions within our community. How do we live in our faith? Let peace invade our hearts, let God deep inside as we reflect and become people of compassion and goodness.
A Family perspective
The family is the basic unit of society; it is the most important foundation. The quality of society depends on the quality of the family. If the family is sick, the society will be sick and if the family is well then the family will be well. The future of society and the Church depends on what the family is today. Therefore, the family is the cornerstone of every society. The family is a domestic church where the value of Christianity lives. The Church is the family of families.
“God is Love.” (1 Jn 4:8) This is the most important attribute that Jesus revealed. God is a community of Love – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is the Divine community.
God gave us the capacity to love and be loved. He puts in us the flame of love.
Marriage is a covenant of that love that is indissoluble. Marriage is a Divine institution given to Man. It is a gift from God and Man has to learn to love and grow in love through marriage and family. A family is the human community.
There are however many crisis in families. Divorce rates are increasing each year, there are many spouses unhappy, they have nothing in common anymore and each are looking in their own directions. They are two lonely people living under the same roof.
Many people ask – Why does God let this happen? If we read Mt 7:9-11, we will know that God, who is all God, only gives good gifts to His children. No, it is not Him that is the cause, it is sin.
Sin began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent tempted Adam and told him that if he ate he will become like God, he will be equal to God. This was the sin of pride that corrupted the whole of humankind. Man wants to build a society without God. He wants to be the creator, the master of his destiny. He does not want to acknowledge that he is a creature and was created into existence. When Adam turned away from God, he cut himself off from his wife. He blamed her and God and trust no longer existed among them. He broke the relationship with his spouse and with God. They became rivals and adversaries, imposing their will on each other and selfishness was a result of their pride.
This is what still happens today. Pride makes each spouse think about himself or herself. It is about what I say about marriage, my happiness, my pleasure, my satisfaction. It is not about the Church or God. No guidance is asked from God. Divine Grace is resisted and hearts become like stone with no compassion. Problems are thus increased and relationships become strained. Even worse, solutions are looked for outside the home.
Who then can save families and bring healing and reconciliation?
Psalm 121:1-2 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Our help comes from our merciful God that loves us and sends Jesus, the Saviour of our families.
The first step is to turn back and recognise our sins with a contrite heart. He knows us and there is no sin He cannot forgive. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
The second is to be reconciled to family members. We need to realise that we are all sinners and we all need forgiveness. To forgive is not a human quality hence we find it so difficult. It is a Divine attribute of God only, given by Him to us. Forgiveness is not dependent on what we feel. God gives us the strength to forgive. However, we need to ask.
And when we ask, we are freed from our bonds and the wounds of our hearts are healed.
These eight daily actions will help make families a place of healing and reconciliation:
- Prayer and Meditation of the Word of God
Our personal relationship with Jesus who is the source of love. First, the threefold relationship with husband, wife and Jesus and then the relationship including the children.
- Faithfulness to your spouse and family
This is the guarantee of happiness.
- Sacrifice for your family
The greater our love, the greater our sacrifice will be.
Indispensable to manage conflicts and bring stability.
- Spiritual education of children
Parents are the first teachers of their children. They are the role models and should teach Christian values.
- Protection of the conjugal and family life
Marriage is a sanctuary. Spouses should not discuss each other outside the family as this breaks the respect that people will have of your spouse.
- Respect your in-laws
Always remember that your in-laws have made sacrifices for your spouse. They should be taken as your own family.
The ultimate test of love for our families.