From Father's Desk

Dear Friends in Christ,

If the Giants beat the Eagles, can we still be friends in Christ? I can forgive you if the Eagles win. Would you be able to forgive me and the Giants? Perhaps my forgiveness overflows from the awareness that this is a child’s game. Our society pours so much money into stadiums and tv-coverage. Annually billions of dollars for about 20 weeks of entertainment. With these modern day gladiators we revisit the bread and circuses of Roman times. It’s all just a game.

People have asked me if God cares about sports. I don’t think so, not really in the way the question is posed. God loves the whole of creation with the fullness of his being. God doesn’t have love. God is love! God reveals himself through creation, the scriptures, the sacraments and the Church to be the fullness of love. But I don’t think he “cares” about who wins in the Superbowl. He cares about holiness, choosing virtue in challenging situations and love for our enemies. Enough natural and supernatural enemies exist in this world that we don’t have to pretend to be fake enemies on opposing sides of the pigskin.

But the rivalry between the Eagles and Giants, that negative animus and score-keeping, are symbolic of the deeper realities we humans choose to hold on to and carry with us. It takes a lot of energy to bear all that baggage. It is such a heavy weight to carry along and still move forward.

Sometimes people come to talk about life, and when we get to the topic of past hurts, often I hear, “They don’t deserve to be forgiven.” That is true; they don’t. And we didn’t deserve to be hurt. That is true; we didn’t. It doesn’t all add up. When we look to the cross and see our Lord Jesus hanging there, more than anyone else, he did not deserve that. And yet, Jesus offered himself for us, we who do not deserve his forgiveness. See, if we are really going to keep score, the tally card will always land in God’s favor. (See Mt 18:25-31) God created us out of love for love, and when we fall short of that calling, we owe a debt. But we have our Lord Jesus who pays the debt of sin for the whole world and invites us to follow him, to learn what it means to truly live, to live in the freedom of the sons of God (see Romans 8:21).

And forgiving others is not only Christ-like, it also sets us free. Recall those illuminating words of Saint John Paul “Forgiveness is the restoration of freedom to oneself. It is the key held in our own hand to our prison cell.” And we are called to be free, to lay our burdens down and stand as daughters and sons of God our Father. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray in the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Every time we say that we are binding our ability to receive forgiveness to our ability to extend forgiveness. We cannot live in God’s peace and love and joy if there is anger and resentment in our hearts.

So as we wrap up this series on forgiveness, let’s strive each day to travel light and fast, to forgive others because we know God has forgiven us in Christ. Just say those words “I cancel your debt.” Not in a haughty way, not self-righteously as if we have true power and authority, but holding a crucifix in our hands and pressing those wounded feet to our lips with devotion and reverence.

May God help us all with the grace we need to be light of heart and swift of foot as we follow the Lamb wherever He goes!

In Christ,
Fr. Wilson