Saturday, December 09, 2006

Clairity on "Forgiveness"


God's first movement toward us.
Our prime obligation to each other.

The most excruciating and humiliating act of our lives.

Clairity meditates on this fundamental witnessing of Christ:

A few sentences I read from Fr. Giussani recently have stayed with me for days. It's from the book The Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.

[F]orgiveness is the acceptance of differences: forgiveness is the first, fundamental characteristic of the relationship between God and us--it is called mercy--and therefore it is the first condition for the relationship between one person and another, between a man and a woman, between people. The first condition is not attraction, but forgiveness.
That last statement about attraction not being the first condition is intriguing. Attraction is that elated experience of the other, an insight toward unity, an intuition of our "I" with the hope to be completed with a relationship with another (not only husband and wife). But in our condition, call it original sin or skepticism or alienation, this vision almost immediately breaks down.

Giussani explained it earlier in a way that we all can recognize ourselves:
[W]e are human beings, we are petty, we are tiresome, we are possessive, in the name of efficiency we become less efficient, there may be only five of us and we split up into three different opinions which we will defend to the death; this is human, and we must never forget to confess these things, because they are real sins.
This is where divorce comes from, and the breach of friendships and family ties. This fracturing is becoming more, not less common. Perhaps at one time we cohered more because of economic necessity. Now we imagine we are autonomous. We can avoid each other to escape difference, even within the same house or neighborhood or church or workplace.
The root of our unwillingness to forgive others? Our unwillingness to accept God's mercy. We're determined to "get it right" on our own. We recognize our wrongness. We deny it in so many ways:
  • We refuse to see it.
  • We minimize it.
  • We excuse it.
  • We hide from it through the myriad idolatries of our day: consumerism, addiction, and idealogue-ism
  • We pursue our own image of what is "right".
None of them work. None of them our merciful. None allow us to accept God's acceptance and love of us. Warts and all.

That's what mercy is.

To accept that, we must surrender. We must surrender our Ego to Reality. We must let go of our illusions of ourselves and the world and accept God and his creation as they are.

That's too high a price for many of us, judging from how many of us act. That's too bad. The Eternal cost of such a conclusion far outweighs the seemingly impossible consequence of surrender.

Yet, I understand.

I've experienced my own determination to "get it right" on my own. My family struggles with forgiving each other at this moment--for grievances imagined and otherwise. Life in a mother-daughter brings that suffocation of conflicting world-views into a claustrophobic collision. It's difficult to be merciful.

Difficult. But not impossible. For with God, nothing is impossible.

I need to more authentically pray. Any of us that struggle to forgive need to more authentically pray. Why? The more room we give our Merciful God within our will, the more his compassionate mercy transforms us, and through us, our relations.

Pray for each other. That way, we'll all begin to invite Mercy into our lives. And we all desperately need it!

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