Is it really possible to imitate God our Father in a love that truly forgives? It’s most certainly not easy. However, what can prepare the way for us to reach this point is to have received what Pope Francis calls “the grace of shame” in our lives and the subsequent joy that comes from having been forgiven. It’s a mysterious pathway which Lent indicates to us so that at the end of it we can arrive at unexpected places.

Healing wounds
One day someone surprised me with a really sharp personal criticism, which I didn’t think I deserved. I was deeply hurt and the attack burnt inside me afterwards. I was tempted to cut that person out. I no longer wanted to have anything to do with them. But I realised this attitude was not coherent with my choice to live the Gospel. How could I heal this wound? I turned to Jesus, and immediately his words came to mind: “Don’t do to others what you would not wish them to do to you”. For days I practised this motto with everyone I met, including the person who had so insulted me. And I noticed something healing within me, replacing any bitter thoughts. I experienced that sense of relief which can only come through forgiveness.
(R. – Italy)

Unconditional love
For quite a while my wife and I had been arguing more and more. Who knows why? The smallest trigger, a word out of place, a something which was nothing, and we’d start to raise our voices, dragging up old grudges. One of those evenings, when the atmosphere between us was truly electric, I noticed our nine year old daughter sitting on the stairs and apparently playing with paper aeroplanes.  She was smiling, as was our younger son. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves! That got my attention, so I picked up some of the paper planes and showed them to my wife. Close up we could see that each plane was decorated with little hearts and messages like “We love you lots”, “You’re the best parents in the world!”, “We want to hear you singing!”. As my wife read them, I saw tears running down her cheeks. We looked at each other, ashamed of ourselves. We hugged and promised to rediscover our “yes” of love pronounced years ago.
(M. – Portugal)

The first step
From when I was a teenager, my father and I could never get on. My mother suffered a lot over this, but we could never find a way through. Until one time, when I was travelling away from home, I confided in a friend who was an active member of a Catholic movement. He said that in difficult situations he would ask himself the question: “If I don’t love that particular person, who can do it in my place?” I returned home with these words ringing powerfully in my ears. Surprisingly I began to recall many occasions in which I could have taken the initiative to show love to my parents but didn’t. To make up for this, I decided to start with small things, helping out in little ways which before I always avoided. Basically, I noticed something inside me change. Twenty years have passed since then and now I have my own children. I understand the importance of taking the first step, as if the other person’s happiness depended only on me.
(R.T. – Hungary)

Edited by Maria Grazia Berretta

(from Il Vangelo del Giorno, Città Nuova, anno VIII, n.2, marzo-aprile 2022)

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