Reconciling and Healing in the Family
by Fr. Peter deSousa
Lent is a special time of reconciliation and healing. Abba Father is watching the road for the return of his prodigal son. He longs to embrace him, cleanse him and reinstate him as his beloved son once more. He wants to celebrate that return with a banquet.
But in order to be reconciled with the Father, we must also be willing to be reconciled with all those we have hurt and who may have hurt us. We have to be as compassionate as our Heavenly Father is compassionate. In fact, the degree to which we will receive forgiveness, depends on the degree to which we are willing to extend forgiveness to others.
This is the favorable time to return to the Father's embrace. We celebrate the sacrifice of His precious son on the cross and the Father wants us all to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, as we come with a contrite and humble heart to accept forgiveness.
So let us hurry to make our peace with God, so that we may have peace of mind and heart and begin a new life of grace. Let us examine how we have behaved towards the members of our family.
How have we taken their love for granted?
How have we ill treated them?
How have we failed to be channels of love and peace to them?
How have we given them bad example?
How have we added to their misery, insecurity and fear?
How have we been lacking in love, respect and acceptance of each one?
Let us humbly ask their pardon without defending or excusing ourselves. "Please forgive me for ....". Let us also be magnanimous in giving forgiveness without acting superior, self-righteous or hurt. Like the Father of the prodigal son, let us be ready to embrace them and celebrate our renewed love.
Just imagine how changed the atmosphere in every home would be, if there was reconciliation and healing. We would hear the sound of laughter and singing instead of cursing, grumbling and anger. Our neighbors would rejoice at the peace and love that dwells among us, instead of what they observe and hear in dysfunctional families. Perhaps they would say again what was said of the early Christians : "See how these Christians love one another"
We are responsible for presenting Christ as the Prince of Peace to our neighbors today. Erecting a statue or taking out a float with banners is insufficient. Let us show by our changed behavior, that we are always willing to forgive unconditionally. The witness of our lives is the greatest way in which we can evangelize others.
Lent is a time of reflecting on the Passion and death of Jesus on the cross and many of us will make the Way of the Cross, fast, do penance or show how much we love Jesus. But to forgive those who hurt us is the greatest way that we can show we are disciples of Jesus. It means giving up the grudges, hurts and desire for revenge to which we cling. In a family, forgiving those who hurt us, is much harder than forgiving a stranger. We have to give up coldness, avoidance and indifference and become friends again.
When we do this, we are open to receive the healing of our bodies and emotions. We remove the block to healing. Christ's grace like a mighty river can flow through us and make us channels of His love and grace to others. Receive love and be life-giving in word and action, as opportunities are given us by the Holy Spirit.
Reconciliation starts with husband and wife. They are the first teachers of their children. Marriage is not a bed of roses. Two spouses may have many differences and may have hurt each other, often. Recall your wedding day and the vows you made to love and respect each other in bad times, sickness and poverty. Be humbly reconciled and allow the water of your marriage to become wine again.
Parents may have failed their children by bad example or by negligence or harshness. Ask their forgiveness and you will be surprised to see how quickly they learn from your example and ask forgiveness from you and from each other. Asking and giving forgiveness is a sign of greatness rather than weakness. Ask Mary the humble handmaid of the Lord to obtain for us a contrite and humble heart.
As a family, together, slowly and prayerfully recite Psalm 103. It reminds us of how loving and merciful God is, slow to get angry and full of constant love.
Easter will truly be a joyful celebration for us, if we are ready to be reconciled with all who have hurt us during this season of Lent. The Sunday following Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.
Christians may not recite as many prayers as our brothers and sisters of other faiths. But the true sign of being God's precious children is having a forgiving heart and not seeking revenge. Like Jesus on the cross may our favorite prayer be: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" Then we will receive the healing we need and be able to bring his healing love to others as well.
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