Forgiveness of Sins

At the final gathering of the Creed series at St. Thomas last week, much of the discussion we had following the reflection I gave on the final section of the Apostles’ Creed focused on the question of forgiveness. Although my reflection had centered primarily on our acceptance of God’s forgiveness of our sins, the discussion centered on the related issue of our difficulty in forgiving others. I’ve had a lot of things on my mind between now and then, but I keep coming back to this issue of forgiveness.

I think both the fact that we spent so much of our discussion last week on those three words in the creed and the fact that I keep coming back to it reflect the truth of something Richard Rohr wrote: “If you don’t get forgiveness, you are missing the whole mystery of God.” Whether we articulate this to ourselves or not, I think we intuitively understand that

Forgiveness is the great thawing of all logic, reason, and worthiness, and the primary way we move from the economy of merit to the economy of grace. Forgiveness is a collapsing into the mystery of God as totally unearned love, unmerited grace. It is the final surrender to the humility and power of a Divine Love and a Divine Lover.

Rohr suggests that if we don’t get forgiveness, we are “still living in a world of meritocracy, of quid-pro-quo thinking, a world of performance and behavior at which none of us succeed, if we are honest.”

The meritocracy/quid-pro-quo attitude of which Rohr speaks affects both aspects of our difficulty with forgiveness – our difficulty forgiving others and our difficulty accepting that we are forgiven by God. Forgiveness is not about desert. And it is not about justice. It is about unconditional and unlimited (and unearned) love.

And really getting that – really understanding it to the core of our beings – takes some doing. Someone suggested at the end of our program that we think about an entire retreat in daily living on the subject of forgiveness. Seems like a good idea to me.