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  • Fr. George

Forgiveness, releasing you and your neighbor

I saw a wonderful movie with 15-16 amazing women on Tuesday. Yes, I unwittingly crashed the Women’s Night Out and saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the new movie that features Mr. Rogers but isn’t about Mr. Rogers, per se. The film begins with (no spoilers here, I promise, because I think everyone should see this film) Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) defining forgiveness as “releasing a person from the feelings of anger that we have toward them.” The real Mr. Rogers once said this about forgiveness: “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life's important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”

How true. The film really focuses on the anger that a character has for his father (again, no spoiler) and how that anger is so fierce, and deep that it seems that nothing can break it. I have thought a lot about forgiveness, its strange power, its challenges, and its blessings, since I saw this inspiring film. And I love the definition that Tom Hanks, as Mr. Rogers gives, which talks about release; releasing another person from the feelings of anger (perhaps long-standing and deep) we have had. Forgiveness releases us, the holders of the anger, to more fully love because, my dear friends in Christ, our anger tends to hold us, not the person we are angry with, as its prisoner. Christ came to free us, captives to not only the sin of anger – God’s and our own – but from all the hurts, scars, and pain that the world has inflicted on us … and we on ourselves. Advent is a powerful reminder that while Christ has come and His work of redemption has been accomplished, we have far to go in grabbing hold of the promise of Christ’s redeeming, restorative, and yes, forgiving love. Who in our life has hurt us? Are we still holding on to our anger/resentment? How might we, with God’s amazing and loving guidance, finally, at last, let go? Christ has loved us into life, into being, and into hope and that is what we ought to hold onto.

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