The Friday Thought - Giving and receiving forgiveness

I got a shock to the system recently when I arrived home to my parents’ house to stay for the night. With my two brothers out of the country I have the privilege and the luxury of enjoying a room to myself. Even the dog has more sense than to wonder over the threshold of the bedroom door.

I got a shock to the system recently when I arrived home to my parents’ house to stay for the night. With my two brothers out of the country I have the privilege and the luxury of enjoying a room to myself. Even the dog has more sense than to wonder over the threshold of the bedroom door.

Needless to say the room is a small sanctuary where I can hide at the end of the day and lock most of the troubles out for a while, unless my mother decides to tidy the roof-space and leaves twenty years of family history and baggage on the floor for me to trip over in the dark of the night.

Even these past experiences failed to prepare me for the shock I received on this night in question. As I turned on the light and began to organise myself for bed I was stopped in my tracks by the unexpected sight of a cot and a pram. I had to look twice before the reality of what I was looking at dawned on me and I realised nothing would be the same again.

It was unusual to discover my room being taken over by the belongings of someone who hasn’t even arrived in the world yet. It was traumatic enough coping with losing my room to my one and only baby sister twenty years ago and now history is repeating itself. It was careless two decades ago to be evicted from one room and dumped into a room with my two brothers in the name of gender rights and equality, now she’s taking over the whole upstairs.

Needless to say there’s great excitement in the home at the moment as my sister is expecting her first child, who will be the first grandchild and my first niece or nephew. As of yet not even my sister knows if she will be having a girl or a boy who is is due into the world in the course of the next week or so.

The enormity of the whole experience has only really hit me in the last few days. I think I’m becoming more nervous than the expectant mother and father, especially when my mother mentioned finding a home for the dog for a few weeks.

I was explaining the situation to someone during the week and got the strangest of responses. The person was amazed we didn’t know if the child was going to be a boy or a girl. Then in all seriousness they summed up the dilemma by saying to me: “So you don’t know if you’ll be an aunt or an uncle then?” Worse of all, the ridiculousness of the statement didn’t register with me until about half an hour later when the penny finally dropped. Worse still, I know the person was joking and having a laugh but my failure to realise the surreal nature of the comment is sure to raise a few questions in their mind.

Meanwhile this much anticipated arrival of new life, the beginning hopefully of a new generation has certainly made me reflect on the gift of life and its fragile nature, especially in its infancy. As a family with God’s blessing and protection we will find ourselves in a new and unfamiliar territory. I have seen the impact children have had on other families; I don’t know how I’m going to cope with the dog?

As a Church we are still commemorating the first day of the new creation, Jesus is the New Adam leading us into the new garden, the place of God’s gift of eternal life.

In the dawn of this new day we realise how this new reality and world is very much in its infancy. The faith of the apostles even though they have heard the firsthand accounts of the empty tomb, and have experienced for themselves the presence of the Resurrected Jesus amongst them, are still shaken, uncertain and fragile. Jesus goes to great lengths to explain to his followers how the events of the paschal mystery, his life, death and resurrection are realities which have been prepared for throughout the history of God’s relationship with his people, his death and resurrection are the fulfilment of God’s plan.

Jesus establishes a new relationship between God and his people; he has overcome the barriers of sin and death and in his own body shown us the way to the Father. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will lead and guide all God’s people over the waters of death to the Promised Land of everlasting life.

The resurrection of Jesus was real, it was the scars on his body and the fact he was able to eat with his disciples which highlights the bodily nature of the Resurrection and so we too have to prepare our bodies and lives for the future which God desires to open up for us.

From commentary the ‘Living Liturgy’ 2009, p. 118’ we read: “It is perhaps surprising that repentance and forgiveness figure so prominently in all three readings assigned to this third Sunday of Easter. For repentance and forgiveness are themselves encounters with the risen Lord. Forgiveness is part of the reality of risen life. We should walk and act like a forgiven people.” Forgiveness is the virtue that enables us not to allow past hurts to determine our decisions and actions in the here and now. Giving and receiving forgiveness is a resurrection activity. This is how Jesus is known.”