To Love is to Forgive
By Father Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J
...from the SFSpirit Archives, September 2009...
Hungarian-born Vilma Banky reigned as the top film star of the 1920’s, playing opposite Rudolph Valentino and Ronald Coleman until the advent of talkies ended her career. Falling ill in her 80’s, she became embittered that none of her friends visited her, and she decreed that no notice be made of her death. "Only now has a spokesman revealed the actress died in a Los Angeles nursing home on March 18, 1991, and was about 90 years of age. Word of Banky’s death began appearing in publications last fall. Yet it went largely unnoticed until this week, when her attorney confirmed the death.
"Banky was ill at home for five years and for another five years at the St. John of God Convalescent Hospital, attorney Robert Vossler said Thursday, ‘During all that time, not a single soul came to visit her. She was so upset that she wanted no notice and no service when she died,’ he said." (AP--Los Angeles)
Have you had any experiences that are reminiscent of this story? One of my colleagues told me about a high school principal from New York in his early 50’s. This principal related he had fallen on difficult times after a long, successful career. My colleague asked the principal what he considered to be his greatest disappointment in life. Without hesitation, the principal said, "My friends." He then shared details about the difficulty he had been in at school and how he had known his friends for many years and thought they would support him under any circumstances. However, when he did something in his school that he knew in his heart was right, even though it was very unpopular, his friends deserted him for a long time. The principal said he had a hard time forgiving them, and wasn’t really sure if he had ever totally forgiven them.
While reading a wonderful book, I Am Your Jesus of Mercy, I was struck by our Lord’s words about forgiveness. Because these are the direct words of Jesus, they are powerful as they relate forgiveness to our lives. We really need to pay attention to Jesus’ message that we are being given. Lives would change for the better if people would take these instructions to heart. Let us listen to Him:
"My child, there are so many of my people who have so much difficulty forgiving their brothers (brothers is meant by our Lord here as both male and female gender). There are many that are so filled with anger that they cannot forgive! To forgive, my people must have the desire and the willingness. Those who do not forgive their brothers cannot forgive themselves.
"If you, my people, cannot forgive yourselves, how can I forgive you? If you cannot forgive your brothers, how can you say you love your Lord God with all your heart? It is not possible for evil to exist with good. I am good! If you love me with all your heart and allow me to love you, there would be no doubt in your mind to forgive and reconcile with your brothers. You would love your brothers with all your heart.
PART 2 Continued Here.
REFLECTION FOR TODAY
May 15, 2022
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
I CALL YOU FRIENDS
"You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you" Jn. 15:14-16
Our gospel reference today forms part of Jesus' Last Supper discourse with His disciples. Jesus reminds his disciples that he has chosen them. Jesus knew that if His disciples were to be strong enough to withstand the challenges of building His Church on earth, they needed to both know and realize that they had been personally chosen by God.
Jesus understood what this meant because He had experienced it Himself when the Father called Him and provided everything He needed to respond to the call. Jesus chose the disciples as his friends with a triple mission. First, they are to love others as he has loved them. Second, they are to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Third, they are to ask God the Father in Jesus' Name, for whatever they need.
Jesus modifies the Old Testament command from "love your neighbor as you love yourselves" to "love others as I have loved you." This means that our love for others must be unconditional, forgiving, and sacrificial. We, too, must be ready to express our love for others by our readiness to die for them as Jesus died for us.
Jesus reminds the disciples that the ultimate expression of love and especially Christian love, lies in self-sacrifice for others. Jesus explains that the calling to produce fruits which the disciples received, and which every Christian also receives, does not originate in the individual's good desires but in Christ's free choice.
As Christians, we need to cultivate an abiding and loving friendship with Jesus. The qualities we normally expect from our friends are trust, mutuality, faithfulness, equality, forgiveness, joy, and self-sacrifice. Jesus offers us all these qualities in our friendship with him.
Jesus as our friend has trusted us by sharing with us everything that he has heard from his Father. Hence, we must trust him as a friend by listening to him through the Bible and talking to him by prayer. As our friend, Jesus will be always faithful to us. Let us return this fidelity by being faithful to him in doing His will.
By calling us his friends, Jesus makes us equal to him. Let us be proud of this and lead lives worthy of our unique status. As an understanding friend, Jesus is ready to forgive us time and time again. Let us also forgive those who offend us.
As a friend, Christ has told us everything so that our joy might be complete in him. Let us enjoy Jesus' Divine friendship. Jesus declared that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend. He has done it for us. Hence, let us also love others sacrificially.
Reflect today upon the call of Jesus on us. The unique friendship we share with Him. How much do we value this relationship of friendship with Jesus? Our status as friends with Jesus is something worth pondering every day. It is a privilege to be friends and not servants of Jesus. Let us be persons for others. Jesus demonstrated the love God, his Father, has for us by living for us and dying for us. As his friends and disciples, we are to be persons for others, sacrificing our time, talents, and lives for others.
Lord Jesus, thank You for calling and making me one of Your friends. Fill me with Your Spirit so that I may embrace Your calling ever more closely. Help me take hold of my share of Your work that You are entrusting to me. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day
As a lay organization, the mission of the Charismatic Renewal is:
- To help all people come to know the love of God in their lives as demonstrated through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
- To help our brothers and sisters respond to God's love by loving God in return through a commitment to serve Christ and His Church.
- To assist them to listen and follow the movement of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.
- To help our brothers and sisters recognize the ministry that God has called them to, and accept the gifts that God desires to bestow upon them for His work in our Church and in our world.
- To lead them to a New Life offered to us by the Holy Spirit.