by Ken Rolheiser
Lent and the challenges of forgiveness

If you look at a flower . . . Why do flowers bloom? They bloom because at some point it becomes too painful not to bloom. It becomes too painful to stay in the bud. And so, they just have to break forth and bloom.”
(from Matthew Kelly - Best Lent Ever - Feb. 14, 2018)

In most every life  we face the challenge of forgiveness. Jesus taught: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In “Leave it Here; Forgive and Receive” Father Brendan McGuire points out that when Jesus gave St Peter and the disciples the keys of the Kingdom He warned Peter: "What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.”

That same forgiveness that is given to Peter is now given to us to dispense.
This is the critical component, McGuire says. “We cannot take unforgiveness into heaven. The commandment is really clear: Forgive one another. Forgive as I have forgiven you.”

Yet, McGuire says, he will meet with someone in his office who says: "I just cannot forgive her. I cannot. No. Never. No. Can't do it. No.” Where can we find freedom from this much hatred?

“The Magic Eyes”is a fable about a righteous man named Fouke, and his wife Hilda, who was short and round. Her soft roundness seemed to invite others to share the warm cheer of her open heart. Hilda loved Fouke, but her heart ached for something more.

One morning Fouke came home and found a stranger in his bed. Hilda’s adultery was a great scandal. To everyone’s surprise, Fouke forgave her. But in his heart Fouke could not forgive. Whenever he thought about Hilda, his anger hardened. He pretended to forgive her so that he could punish her with his righteous mercy.

Each time that Fouke felt hatred toward Hilda, an angel came to him and dropped a small pebble into his heart. Each time a pebble dropped, Fouke would feel a stab of pain. His pain grew.

When the pain was unbearable, the angel explained that there was one remedy. Fouke would need the miracle of the magic eyes that could look back to the beginning of his hurt and see his Hilda, not as a wife who betrayed him, but as a weak woman who needed him.

Only these magic eyes could heal the hurt flowing from the wounds of yesterday. Fouke protested. “Nothing can change the past,” he said. “Hilda is guilty, a fact that not even an angel can change.”

The angel said, “You cannot change the past, you can only heal the hurt that comes from the past. And you can heal it only with the vision of the magic eyes.”

“And how can I get your magic eyes?” pouted Fouke.

“Only ask, desiring as you ask. And each time you see Hilda through your new eyes, one pebble will be lifted from your aching heart.”

Fouke could not ask at once, for he had grown to love his hatred. But the pain of his heart finally drove him to ask. And each time he looked at Hilda with his magic eyes, she began to change. He began to see her as a needy woman who loved him instead of a wicked woman who betrayed him.

“Lent is a beautiful thing… And it leads into springtime. And we all need a new springtime in some aspect of our lives…” (Matthew Kelly)

(578 words)