Thursday, January 21, 2016

Receiving Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an interesting but also a great virtue. It is a term and a reality found in Holy Scripture and in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. We Christians should endeavour to forgive those who wrong us, our friends and our enemies. In the Lord’s Prayer we recite ‘. . . And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. . .’ Here we see that it is not only important to forgive, but also to receive forgiveness, to ask for it. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh expands on this and claims:

‘Judgement would hold nothing but terror for us if we had no sure hope of forgiveness. And the gift of forgiveness itself is implicit in God’s and people’s love. Yet it is not enough to be granted forgiveness, we must be prepared to receive it, to accept it.
We must consent to be forgiven by an act of daring faith and generous hope, welcome the gift humbly, as a miracle which love alone, love human and divine, can work, and forever be grateful for its gratuity, its restoring, healing, reintegrating power.
We must never confuse forgiving with forgetting, or imagine that these two things go together. Not only do they not belong together, but they are mutually exclusive. To wipe out the past has little to do with constructive, imaginative, fruitful forgiveness; the only thing that must go, be erased from the past, is its venom; the bitterness, the resentment, the estrangement; but not the memory.’[1] 

[1] Anthony of Sourozh, Creative Prayer, 2004, p.72. 

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