Prayer of St. Francis (27)
Feb 14, 2016
Prayer of St. Francis (27)
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned (2)
“Forgive them Father,
for they know not what they do.”
My first guiding mystic who came in to my life, Irmis Popov, told the story of her mother, who could not transition at old age until she forgave the person who she believed had murdered Irmis’ father. Her father had been a ’benevolent’ dictator of a South American country, and he died on the operating table during a simple procedure, and the family had to flee during the night, ending up in Europe, when Irmis was an infant. Her mother refused to forgive the person who took over the country, convinced that he had ordered her husbands’ death. Many years later, she lay on her death bed for weeks, and seemingly couldn’t let go of life, as if she had something to do. Irmis pleaded with her mother to forgive the man who still claimed so much of her life. Finally Irmis had a kind of visitation, and she took her mother in her arms, and said in place of her mother: “I forgive him, let him rest in peace”, wherein her mother nodded and transitioned peacefully.
The power of forgiveness is not usually illustrated for us so dramatically, but it still comes home in many stories that we have all heard and maybe experienced. As we have been told many times, when we fail to forgive another, that person has a hold on our life, no matter where that person is, even if they have transitioned, their hold on our life is deadly. We are the ones who gain when we forgive, for it may seem as if an overpowering weight is released from our shoulders at that time.
The gift from God entitled “A Course in Miracles” (ACIM) states that redemption is forgiveness, not that we need forgiveness ourselves, but we must learn forgiveness for redemption, for when we forgive we redeem the world. (The course consists of text and a 365 day workbook on finding our true selves as a being within the Kingdom of Heaven, or God.) The power of forgiveness is quite bluntly the core of redemption, and the statement of Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) while transitioning on the cross is meant for all of us; it is our task to act as the Face of God in our world by redeeming the world by our forgiveness, as indeed, we know not what we do.
Forgiveness of others is hard. Let’s face it; it is one of the most difficult tasks we are asked to perform in order to grow in the knowledge of our God and to find peace in ourselves. The Prayer of St Francis states the call: it is by forgiving others that we are forgiven by the universe. God, of course, has already forgiven us, even before we acted, just as the father in the parable of the prodigal son that most of us know so well. The father did not wait for the son to ask for forgiveness; no, the father ran to his son with joy, for he had long forgiven his son, and it is clear from the original actions of the father, he had forgiven his son even before he left.
So too we have to learn to forgive, “even before it occurs”, as God has had no reason to forgive us, and indeed, requires no reason to forgive us as God has had mercy on us from the beginning, and fully embraces us at all times no matter what we have done in our eyes. God fully understands we are but toddlers in our quest, and “we do not know what we do”, and like a toddler, God lets the ‘spills’ and ‘accidents’ go by, never accusing us of anything.
Next I will look at the follow up question and quest: Forgiving ourselves.
“Then Peter came and said to Him,
‘Lord, how often shall my brother
Sin against me and I forgive him?
Up to seven times?’
Jesus said to him,
‘I do not say to you, up to seven times,
But up to seventy times seven’.”
Questions to Ponder
Look deep in your soul, as we asked last time, and see how your process of forgiveness is proceeding. Again; look deep. Where does your angst lie in the actions of others? What actions of others cause you to be upset, angry, or some other form of “doing battle”?
Lay these burdens before yourself, and just let them go, let them go: “Judge not, lest you be judged.” (Mathew 7:1)
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
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