Matthew 6: 14-15
If you forgive those who sinned against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Christ's directive to forgive those who sinned against us is clear. There are no conditions or exemptions.
But, human as we are; it is easier said than done. It is so hard to forgive especially when the offense against us is so deep, traumatic and tragic. How can a rape victim be able to forgive her rapist? How can a mother forgive the person who killed her child? If someone tries to kill you but failed, can you forgive that person who tried to kill you? In all of these situations, is it possible to forgive? And Christ further tells us that, "If you do not forgive those who sinned against you, your Father will not forgive your sin."
Everyday, when we pray the Our Father, can we honestly say "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?" God knows that as humans, we are not perfect and that we are prone to error. Everyday, every minute, every second, we sinned against God. But God is so patient with us. But we argue, at least our sins against God are just venial compared to murder and rape. But hey, who are we to say that our sins are just mild compared to others' sins. We are not all-knowing. Our judgment is different from God's judgment. Our minds are way too different from God's mind.
On July 5, 1902, eleven year old Maria Goretti was stabbed 14 times by 20 year old Alessandro Serinilli for refusing to have sex with him. Before she died, the priest asked her if she forgave Alessandro. Maria replied, "Yes, I forgive him and want him to be in paradise with me some day." Alessandro spent 30 years in prison. He repented after he dreamt of Maria. After serving his sentence, he asked Maria's mother for forgiveness. Maria's mother forgave him. Alessandro then lived at a Capuchin Monastery until his death. In his written personal testimony, he wrote, "When I was 20 years old, I committed a crime of passion. Now that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good angel sent to me through Providence to guide and save me." Maria Goretti was beatified and canonized on April 27, 1947 and on June 24, 1950, respectively by Pope Pius XII. Present at her canonization was Alessandro, the man she forgave.
On May 13, 1981, while Pope John Paul II was making his way around St. Peter's Square, he was shot by a Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. But by God's protection, the Pope survived. Two days after Christmas of 1983, the Pope visited Ali Agca in prison and forgave him. He said, "I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned ....."
I learned that forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a decision, it is a will. In my personal experience, I really find it hard to forgive those who had hurt me the most, but I know too well that if I don't forgive, I will not be forgiven. What a shame if I keep on praying "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those trespass against us" if I don't practice what I'm praying.
Forgiveness does not mean that we will be friends again with our offender or assailant, that we will trust them again, forgiveness means that we have to let go of our hatred towards our offenders. For hatred is against God who is Love.
Is it possible to forgive? Yes. Can we do it? If St. Maria Goretti and her mother were able to forgive Alessandro, and John Paul II was able to forgive Mehmet Ali Agca, then why can't we? If God forgave us a gazillion times everyday, then why can't we who are merely His creatures forgive our fellow creatures. Christ did not even spare himself from his own directive to forgive. He even showed us a perfect example of forgiving others - He forgave everyone while still hanging and dying on the cross. God would never command us to do something beyond our capacity.
If today, you find it hard to forgive someone, ask God's help. He is just waiting for you to ask His help. Tell Him that you cannot do it all by yourself and that you need Him in forgiving those who sinned against you. He understands you and He will never forsake you.