Decisions made in the heat of the moment can go one of two ways. We can either react emotionally, shooting daggers at the offending party. Or we can keep our comments to ourselves remembering every human being is a child of God. Even the worst of the worst. Think about Jesus on the cross. Two criminals on each side of Him. One of them hurling insults at Christ and the other realizing He was the Son of God, asking Jesus to remember him in His Kingdom. How did Jesus respond? He told the man who believed that they would be seeing each other in paradise. It's never too late to repent. No matter what your sins are, no matter how grave, Jesus is always ready to forgive.
Today's Gospel (John 21:15-19) is a perfect example of the forgiveness we can expect from our Lord as followers:
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
In Anne a lay apostle's book Staying in Place, she points out God's Forgiveness is right in front of us at all times:
"Hurting another created child of God is the same as hurting the One who created that child. Rejecting God is a 'no' response to His complete 'I love you.' We repent and as Catholics, we seek absolution through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Yet, there’s something which is more widely available, also. We can evaluate it as existing within our human experience. It is by cooperation with grace we have been saved, through faith. By the same token, it would appear that there is nothing we could do negatively, through sin, which would prompt God to withdraw the gifts of grace available. We can reject the gifts, for example, we can reject the gift He offers of forgiveness by refusing to repent. We reject many of His gifts, but they keep coming and they remain in front of us for uptake throughout our whole life, regardless of our condition."
Lay apostles, Peter had denied Jesus three times. Paul was persecuting Christians. And yet they became true disciples of Christ. All Jesus asked was they feed and tend to His sheep. That's all He asks of us. Love Him and spread the Good News. For however we have sinned or been sinned against, truly repenting in our hearts is the goal.
Thank you, Lord, for bringing Your lay apostles words to live by. Continue to help me forgive unconditionally. And most especially, to remain silent when I want to throw daggers.