Forgiveness and the beauty of Family living


If newly wedded couples invite me to share with them what they ought to do in order to make their union last successfully longer, then, I would find it most appropriate to share with them the beauty of forgiveness.

What is the meaning of the word forgiveness?

What does it mean to forgive? Before we consider these questions, let us, first of all, mention, at this juncture, that forgiveness is an invaluable virtue – a virtue that everyone must yearn to acquire. This is because it is “a mother virtue”- a virtue that unlocks other virtues.

Concerning the vice of unforgiveness, a story was told of a man who refused to forgive his elder brother for not helping him when he was extremely poor. As a result, he was very angry with his brother and refused to forgive him: he could have prevented his brother from being poisoned by friends (his brother’s friends). Instead, he supported (passively) the evil act and his brother died of the poison. That was the extent unforgiveness brought him.

Unforgiveness could make us halt the good that is coming to someone who has offended us. Unfortunately, unforgiveness could also make us to lose something precious especially when it is in the possession of the person who has offended us most terribly. Notwithstanding, let us return to our first question: what is the meaning of the word forgiveness? In other words, what does it entail to forgive?

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, forgiveness simply means to “stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense or mistake.” Let us also observe here that forgiveness goes hand-in-hand with tolerance. Whenever you see a very successful marriage or family, and enquire from it the secret of its success, the reply would be nothing less than we learn to tolerate and forgive each other’s faults and offences. Hence, a heart that is capable of forgiving, is also a heart that is able to tolerate. When we forgive, we also acknowledge that we are capable of doing wrong – that we are not perfect. In this regard, the word of Christ becomes very beneficial to us: forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us (Matt. 6:12); such that if you always forgive, you will always be forgiven and vice versa.

When we further look into the scriptures, we would find uncountable passages where the act of forgiveness favours the person that is even forgiving. In the bible, we are told that if one forgives, one is also preparing or disposing one’s self for God’s own forgiving mercies (Matthew 18: 23-35). Whoever forgives the sins of others, at the same time, admits that he is a sinner in need of God’s abundant mercies.

When we forgive, we give ourselves the opportunity to see our own errors; this is made clear in the gospel of John 8:1-11. When we forgive our neighbour’s sin, the Lord Himself also forgives us our own sins. The CCC puts it well: by asking God the father to pardon us, we acknowledge before him that we are sinners. Also, when we forgive, we will have clear picture of what it means to offend God.

Nonetheless, there is something that ought to be highlighted here: it is very important to understand that the forgiveness that we are referring to is not the forgiveness that is free from extreme difficulties. Therefore, the forgiveness that we are referring to really comes with extreme challenges. These challenges, sometimes, may confront our resolve to really forgive others; it may test or touch on our faith as God’s people – a people called to constantly learn from the school of loving forgiveness, beginning with our family – the domestic Church.

In spite of this, we must not give up. We must learn that though the virtue of forgiveness requires active human cooperation with the divine, it is essentially divine to forgive. So, we ought to constantly seek the help God in order to attain this loving virtue.

Author: Bro Samuel Akalite