Surprised by forgiveness

As the church year flowed into the season of Lent, we remembered a long essay, written last year in Comment magazine. Writer Joseph Keegin details his journey, searching for a way to forgive his belligerent and abusive father. After pouring through Greek philosophers, Stoics and even Eastern religions, Keegin concluded that theories about forgiveness always involved selfish motivations. Forgiving someone was not for the transgressor’s sake, it was about recovering your own peace of mind.

Complaining about his discovery to a “devout Catholic” friend, Keegin was surprised by his answer: “You haven’t looked in the Bible?” Keegin admits he wanted to be a philosopher, not a Christian, someone who “courageously seeks understanding of our godless world, aided by nothing but reason and keenness of vision.” But reading of Christ who prayed for his enemies, “Father forgive them” defied logic. It was something brand new. 

It should not really be a surprise, but it always is – that God would reconcile all things to himself, in the blood of his Son, making peace through his cross. We pray that God’s wondrous forgiveness will bring you comfort and hope, even as we live amidst the ruins of the world. His body and blood were given for you, so don’t wallow in the muck! You are paid for, you are immortal now and he won’t be long anyway.

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