Forgiveness given and forgiveness received are always the work of God’s grace. (Thank you, Rev Rohr!) Unearned and even undeserved forgiveness is necessary to break down the “quid pro quo” world we all know: it is where we have trade-offs, exchanges, and where one-hand-washing-the-other deals are made. True grace makes all things new; and nothing new can happen in those situations where forgiveness is needed and not extended. Without forgiveness we are doomed to just keep repeating the same old sin patterns: our illusions, half-truths, spinning the story, injustice, blaming and shaming, our self-lies, pride and prejudices, and our refusal to seek reconciliation.
“True Spirit-led forgiveness always frees and heals at least one of the parties involved, and hopefully both. True forgiveness also awakens and invites the hearts of others, most especially the offender. True forgiveness does not leave the offender feeling small and judged, but liberated and loved.” (Rev. Rohr) In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ parable teaches us this truth about forgiveness, love and grace. In any pain-filled situation we are called as disciples to always choose goodness: especially for that of the offender; in trusting that God’s goodness flows in all things and works through all situations.
So how to start the healing, how to forgive? I suggest we start with prayer—especially for those with whom you disagree on any or all issues. I have reprinted “The Five Finger Prayer” as a helpful guide to begin. In this time of social unrest, fear, division, sickness and strain—we can all use the prayers of and for each other.
Keep singing in your hearts!
The Five-Finger Prayer
1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as the great Christian writer C. S. Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”
2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach and instruct (especially at the start of this school year during this pandemic) and those who heal—especially all our first responders along with all teachers, doctors, priests, parents, pastors and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. In this time of toxic partisan division please pray for the president and all public servants; all leaders in business, industry and politics, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They all very much need God's guidance in order to lead us to justice and peace for all persons.
4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger (as any piano teacher will testify). It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, sick, sad, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.
5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As Scripture says, “The least shall be the greatest among you.” Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.
We remember all God’s works in praying for others for God is as close as your own hand.