Late in my career, the principal of the school where I worked wrongly accused me of undermining his authority. Although I maintained my innocence, the superintendent and board of directors gave me a “choice”: sign an affidavit of my guilt or leave the position. I would not live a lie, and so was forced to leave a job that I was passionate about.
It was a very dark time of my life. I had been blindsided with the accusation and sank into a deep depression. I found myself angry and betrayed. It was as if my integrity—my very personhood—had been attacked. A counselor diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder and ordered therapy.
Even though I had been taught since childhood that we are called to forgive even those who have not asked for forgiveness, I could not forgive the man who brought this false charge against me and changed the trajectory of my life. Every year, I looked deep into my heart for the power to forgive and came up short. I resigned myself to the fact that I might not be able to forgive in this lifetime.
Then, one morning, more than eight years later, I woke up with a new perspective. It was as if the burden of the last eight years was gone, dissolved on its own in its own time. I was free of the weight that had plagued me for so many years. Unconsciously, I had forgiven.
In Luke’s passage, we read Jesus’ admonishment to love our enemies, do good to them, bless them. Jesus instructs us to turn the other cheek, give our shirt to one who has stolen our coat, swell the coffers of beggars. He asks us to do unto others as we would hope others would do unto us. And He urges us to forgive.
Help us to forgive, Lord, as you have forgiven us. Amen.