On approaching Forgiveness Sunday
3 February 1991
Before we part, I want to remind you that soon, so soon that we will not notice how the time has come, we will be faced with the beginning of Lent, and on the threshold of that period, which is renewal, which is newness of life, we will have to take part in the service of forgiveness. We should be prepared for it; and it is time n o w to begin this preparation.
We must begin to ask: Who has anything against us? Whom have we offended, humiliated, hurt in any way? And ask ourselves whether we are prepared to make our peace, that is, to go to this person, to say that we have done wrong, that we are ashamed of it, and ask for forgiveness, to accept the humiliation of recognising that we a r e in the wrong.
We must also ask ourselves, who are those who have wounded us, offended, humiliated, hurt us, and ask ourselves: are we prepared to g i v e forgiveness? If we are not – the words of the Lord's prayer, 'Forgive as I forgive' turn against us because then they mean, 'Do not forgive me because I refuse to forgive'. And this must be absolutely, clearly marked in our mind and in our souls.
So, let us prepare this week, next week for this moment, when we will stand here, asking God to forgive us all (of) our unfaithfulness; asking the Mother of God to forgive our r e a l responsibility in Christ's crucifixion. And ask one another for forgiveness with the awareness that we need it, and ready also to g i v e forgiveness to a n y o n e who will come and ask; but give it not in word, not for one moment, not under the effect of a deep emotion, of the instant, but give it in order never to take it away, that it should be n e w n e s s of life, n e w n e s s of relationship.
Let us prepare for this; because otherwise, when we will go round asking for forgiveness and giving it, it will be a lie; a momentary forgiveness is no forgiveness; it is not the way in which God forgives us.
So, let us reflect deeply on our lives because unless we do, we will not be ready to meet Holy Week, to meet Passion, (to receive?) forgiveness, newness of life.