May you have blessed Holy Week. Considering the timing, let’s imagine the forgiving heart of Jesus from his passion through his ascension. As he hung on the cross, the very people he created, loved, and saved tortured him: either directly by their insults, spit, and physical violence (the soldiers), or indirectly, by their failure to accompany him in his worst moments (the apostles). Jesus cried, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Lk 23: 24, NABRE). On Easter morning, he miraculously entered the locked room, where the disciples huddled in fear and confusion, and said, "Peace be with you" (Jn 20: 19). Jesus' forgiveness prompted an impartation of peace followed by a challenge. The three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him are "redue" opportunities for his three betrayals (Jn 21: 17). Jesus sets the stage for our understanding of authentic forgiveness, which means knowing what forgiveness is and isn't.
Understanding what forgiveness is and isn’t goes a long ways towards implementing forgiveness in our own lives. While real injustices happen all too frequently, many opportunities to forgive follow: personality and cultural differences, failures in thoughtfulness, chronic and acute miscommunication, and conflict resolution pitfalls. Sometimes those “trigger points” have little to do with others and everything to do with living out of core lies at the center of our hurt. In the beginning, we choose to forgive, but, in the end, we pray for the forgiveness that surpasses human understanding and stems from the compassionate heart of the Father for all His children. The way of Christ is the (best) way for us.