Forgiveness For All – Ourselves Included
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 49:14-15

Not too long ago a friend made an interesting comment.

“I get fed up with politicians’ self-serving decisions packaged as noble efforts for the common good. Church leaders drive me nuts with worthless direction on problems for which they have no feel because they never have and never will face them. I have no respect for folks who complain about others’ selfishness but contribute nothing to the commonweal that law or their job doesn’t demand. But, when I’m all alone, when I’m really quiet, when I pray, what bothers me most isn’t someone else, it’s how little I live up to what I want to be. I know that my frustration with myself often comes out as frustration with others.”

Over the years, people have frequently made such comments to me. Though we don’t speak of it often, being disappointed with ourselves is common. I’m not referring to feelings of guilt. They’re different. Guilt has to do with fear of an outside disapproving force. My friend’s feelings arose from his own hopes for himself. The origin of his distress was deep within him where the promise of life dwells. The sadness of not realizing one’s own potential for goodness is profound.

Jesus constantly taught the importance and presence of God’s forgiveness. The point wasn’t to present God as a nice guy who didn’t sweat the small stuff. His message was that our Creator never gives up on us. He knows something about us that we forget: we have worth beyond counting. Rejecting us simply isn’t an option for God. It can’t be an option for us either.

Of all the acts that we perform in harmony with God, nothing is as crucial as forgiving: forgiving our friends, forgiving those who oppose and hurt us – our enemies, forgiving ourselves. Forgiveness makes love possible; it makes faith possible; it makes God’s will possible.

It was brilliant of Isaiah to personify God as a mother incapable of turning her back on her children. It’s an image with the power to sustain our hope in the face of any evil within or outside ourselves. Forgiveness deserves to be at the heart of our prayer. It’s the kernel of the gospel.