“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep.
Forgiving others can be very difficult, but imagine the love and mercy we would need to be able to forgive our murderers. It is the love and mercy of Jesus Christ revealed again through the faithful witness of St. Stephen. It is the also exactly what we are called to do. Though we might not be crucified or stoned, we are all called to be martyrs and forgivers in one way or another. Perhaps we are martyred by the way members of our family treat us. Perhaps we are martyred by backstabbing or gossipy coworkers. Perhaps someone else is casting stones at our character or being physically abusive. In each of these instances, and so many more, we are called upon to put aside our selfish desire for revenge and ask God to forgive those who have sinned against us. Not because we like the person or condone what they have done, but because forgiving others frees us from the temptation to strike back. It frees us from our anger, our resentment, and all those other feelings that could lead us into sin. When we let go and let God, we recognize God as the One and Only Judge and can fall asleep in His Arms secure in the knowledge that He will protect what is most important... our souls.
Who do we need to forgive in our lives? How can we learn to show mercy, even to those who show none to us? What can we do to resist the temptation to retaliate against those who harm us?
O Lord, do not hold the sins others commit against us against them.