Forgiveness is wisely framed as a question, not an issue. Still, many wonder: IS there a time to hate? There is certainly a time–often a long, long time–to mourn, to grieve, to be bewildered, to be bereft, to be crushed, to rage at your enemies, to question existence, to doubt God. But the danger in hatred, it seems to me, is that you tend to forget all the hateful things you’ve done and continue to do yourself.
There are as many ways in which self can die out of our love as there are loves in the world, but there is one which we need to think of very much to-day: forgiveness. It is strange to say that we discover Christ in one another by forgiving one another. Perhaps this is because we have a wrong conception of forgiveness. So often, alas, as we use it, it is condescension following upon condemnation. But it should not be. It should be the most direct way of healing a wound. It goes beyond all possible explanations and all possible misunderstandings. It does not even ask to be understood.
Nothing could work more against the discovery of the lost Child in another than to foster bitterness against someone we love or to have an enemy.
Christ is utterly sinless; if someone has injured us, it cannot be the Christ in him that has injured us. But no one can do a wrong without wounding himself. Sin always wounds the sinner, but Christ has taken this great wounding to Himself. All His wounds, all His suffering, the whole of His passion, is the wounding of sin–ours the sinning: His the redeeming wound of our sin.
Forgiveness, then, is a reaching out to comfort and heal that wound in our friend which Christ in him bears because of the wrong he did to us: to forgive is to ask Christ to forgive us. “Forgive and you shall be forgiven.”
So, too, to be forgiven. When we ask and give forgiveness, we discover Christ’s redeeming wounds in one another. And when we ask the Father to forgive us, He discovers the Child who was lost in us. He sees the shining wounds of Mary’s Son, the lost Child in the human race come back to Him. And God forgives.