Did you hear a good homily on forgiveness yesterday? Not only were the readings a great starting point for reflecting on the tenth anniversary of 9-11, the Gospel story is one of those that just hits home every time.  It was one of those Gospels where we leave church thinking,  I know I need to grapple with the fact I don’t want to forgive THAT person.” Or I want to believe that even though I may never see justice, I can do something so that the situation will stop eating at me. You may find yourself thinking I want to hear another homily on how I can forgive.

BUT HOW

As perfectly timed, as yesterday’s Gospel, is the publication of my fellow blogger and colleague, Fr. R. Scott Hurd’s book, Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach. In the spirit of full disclosure, Fr. Scott is a colleague and we have admired each other’s work for a number of years and I have written an endorsement for the book which all adds up to having lots of evidence that Fr. Hurd knows what he is talking about.  The book is worth purchasing for yourself and for a friend who may be stuck in the awful cycle of anger and hurt.  What makes Forgiveness such a good read is that it is also a manual.  It answers the HOW question in a step-by step look at sin, forgiveness and reconciliation and how we can make it happen.  If you are a regular reader of this blog or have had the good fortune to hear Fr. Hurd preach,  you will recognize his gift for storytelling and you will appreciate that his example of people grappling with forgiveness and finding their way toward reconciliation come from his own experience in ministry, from the lives of the saints and ripped from the headlines of the news. They offer such a breadth of experiences that I can’t image you won’t see yourself in one of them.

Be An Instrument

Forgiveness is more than just stories; Fr. Hurd tackles the big questions as well.  He writes of having to face the fact we may need to express anger with God, and he tackles how tough forgiving in a Christian way can be.  He reminds us that prayer and participation in the other sacraments not only can help but are essential to the process.  He helps us to honestly ask ourselves if the place to start is realizing we just may need to “lower the bar!”  Fr. Hurd’s book is the kind of book that you could read together with a spouse or family member or friend with whom you are trying to find the way toward reconciliation but just can’t seem to get past an obstacle.  Cardinal Wuerl, in his forward to the book, writes “…We are all called to even more than the passive reception of God’s mercy. Jesus asks us to be instruments of forgiveness.”  In Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach we are given the tools to be instruments of forgiveness.

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