Last Saturday evening, we went to an outdoor Mass with some very dear friends at the Cross in the Woods at Indian River. It was a beautiful evening, and God showed off when a Bald Eagle circled overhead during the priest’s homily. The Cross in the Woods is the world’s largest crucifix. Made from a single redwood tree, it towers 55 feet above Burt Lake and the Northern Michigan woods. The bronze corpus of Jesus weighs 7 tons and is 28 feet tall, with His outstretched arms spanning 21 feet. As incredibly humbling as it is celebrating Mass beneath this crucifix, the most powerful effect for me was looking up at the commanding face of Jesus looking down – it is truly the Face of God.
Looking up at Jesus hanging on that cross, I marveled at how God can be so forgiving of our sins even though our sins put Him there. I thought about how we seek God’s forgiveness, but can be stubborn forgiving each other. I thought about how forgiveness lies at the heart of our Christian faith, and how Jesus loved those who had nailed Him there, and as He was dying, asked His Father to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. Jesus didn’t hang on to bitterness or anger. In His final minutes of human life, He showed grace and love to those who had wronged Him.
The ability to forgive requires humility with the desire to understand each other and reconcile – no matter who is at fault. Choosing to forgive doesn’t condone sin, excuse the wrongs done to us, or minimize our hurts. Offering forgiveness simply frees us to enjoy God’s gift of mercy by inviting Him to accomplish beautiful works of peace within our hearts to restore our relationships with others. Forgiving others demonstrates our humbleness and expresses our trust in God’s right to judge according to His perfection and goodness.
As we find ourselves this week being hurt or offended by others, may we remember that to find a forgiving spirit within us, we must look into our own hearts and realize that we, too, have a need for others to forgive us. May we pray for the grace to humbly reconcile our differences, and to achieve such a true, loving spirit. Have a blessed week!