How to still be a loving person in difficult relationships without becoming angry and bitter?
Fr Robert Christo, Vicar for Communications said, “The minute that you recognise that life is not your own, (it is not about me, mine and I) you are on the pathway to salvation.” He added that unforgiveness happens when we start being preoccupied with self (“I am only doin’ ME”).
God’s mercy must be reciprocated in relationships with others. Fr Christo said God “allows the sun to rise on good and bad alike… in spite of who you are and what you have done, overlooking our deeds, bad and good, the same way we must be merciful to others. So, whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you” (Jas 2:12–13).
He knows that showing mercy can be extremely difficult but only for the grace of God. “God Himself is love or Hesed (tender, loving, mercy). Straight through Him is love and mercy – nothing else.” We need “to take out the sting of unforgiveness” when people cause pain. “That is the crux of Christian love, in the Christian tradition, in scripture. Mercy is the other side of love.”
He reminded of Jesus’ admonitions: Matthew 9:13, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”; Matthew 5:24, leave your gifts at the altar and first be reconciled with your brother, and Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”.
Sometimes the people who are closest to us can inflict the most hurt. Fr Christo said this is difficult to deal with but through therapy, counselling, prayer and sacrifice we can help remove the sting from the hurt and pursue the path to forgiveness.
The actions of the person causing hurt are not being condoned and you do not put yourself in harm’s way, but you can still decide to wish the best for them. He said, “Love is a decision to wish the best for them in spite of, for the sake of the other.”
Fr Christo said reconciliation is not based on harbouring ill-will or “toting feelings” because these can even have adverse effects on our health, freedom, and salvation. Unforgiveness can block graces and may become an access point for the devil to cause “havoc in your life”. We may ask ourselves: “is that situation worth it?”.
“Everyone has experienced hurt from someone and everyone needs to forgive someone sometime.” Fr Christo said the Catholic seeks grace from God for this; it cannot happen on human efforts alone.