Every human being needs forgiveness just as much as daily bread. God gives it always, unconditionally, “the One who forgives all your sins.” Opening our hands in prayer is a simple gesture that can express our desire to welcome it.
During my time living in Taizé, I often wondered how people from so many different countries, cultures and even religions could pray and live together. In the church I observed that, at the beginning of the week, some seemed to have difficulty to keep silence. But as time passed, most of them were able to pray with joy and connect with God deeply. I also saw that most of them were able to share openly about their spiritual experiences, but also take part in common tasks, even boring or hard ones…like cleaning toilets. All of them seemed to do these things with joy. What a strong expression of joy!
How is this possible in Taizé? People overcome differences to unite in prayer and in living together. Perhaps they realize that God loves them always and that he forgives without condition. So they feel that they are loved, their hearts are full of joy and they want to express this.
Christ distinguished between the person and the offense committed. Until his last breath on the cross, he refused to condemn anyone. And instead of minimizing the fault, he took it upon himself.
Forgiveness is an attitude of love that accepts all wrongs in order to be at peace. We cannot be at peace with others when we don’t first reconcile with ourselves. As Christians this is achieved by first accepting Christ who pardons us.
Personally speaking, forgiveness is not as an easy task as it may sound and it is as well a commitment and a responsibility. I realized that it can be made only by God’s grace and love.
I would finally say that acknowledging Christ who pardons and loves us is the same as accepting Christ in our lives. This is the root of peace, liberty and reconciliation with ourselves and with God’s creation
Welcoming and sharing God’s forgiveness is the road that Christ has opened. We move forward on it in spite of our weaknesses and our wounds. Christ does not turn us into women and men who have already reached the goal.
Daniel (Costa Rica)
During the last two years I have been struggling with myself to decide what I want to do with my life. I have made some decisions but they were not the right ones, so I felt hopeless and without confidence.
However, during my time in Taize, I could understand that welcoming the forgiveness from Christ means that I have to forgive myself first.
I accepted I made a mistake and it helped me to heal my wounds. I even understood that my mistakes are nos a light because now I have started to discover who I am and what I want to do in my life.
Just because I know this it does not mean that I do not have fear anymore or that my life is going to be easier, but at least I still want to take the risk and try, because the forgiveness that comes from Christ has brought me back to life.
We are the poor of the Gospel; being Christians does not mean claiming to be better than others. What characterizes us is simply the choice to belong to Christ. In making this choice we want to be wholly consistent.
Jessica (New Zealand)
One of the joys I have in being Christian comes from choosing every day to belong to Christ. This choice is not one I have to announce to all, but is a personal one I make with Christ. By continuously affirming my commitment to belong to him, I am required to actively live my faith, with a humble and simple heart. It requires me to persevere for Christ, not so that others can see me doing it, but because I have listened to what Christ has said to me, and have chosen to follow him!
While I choose every day to belong to Christ, many times I realize that my questions and doubts cause me to feel that I am not succeeding! On these days I pray to Christ, entrusting him with my doubts and questions and praying for him to help me, with the little faith I have to continue to choose to belong to him.
“A Christian is someone who lives in forgiveness, who knows that every day he transgresses the commandments of God, but who also returns to God every day and who knows, with invincible certainty, that God will have the last word in his life. Christ has taken charge of him, has taken responsibility for him before his Father. He is not alone in his fight; the one to whom he gave himself will never abandon him.” (Suzanne de Dietrich, 1891-1981)
When I think about forgiveness, I have to think about the parable of the prodigal son and about the Second Letter to the Corinthians 5:18-21. Jesus makes a distinction between the person and the sin committed, since human being belong to the Father and sin is falling into the temptation that tests our faith. But the Father, in his infinite mercy, leaves us fully free and waits for us patiently to return from this long journey that we decided to take because we were not feeling at home in his house.
He is the one who, when he sees us coming, leaves at once what he was doing and without any prejudice runs along the road to meet us and hugs us with the tenderness of a love that is not known in this world and dresses us to celebrate without asking absolutely anything; he is simply happy about our return and celebrates with everyone the arrival of his lost son. That is where we surrender ourselves to him; that is where reconciliation is—in the infinite tenderness of filial love.
“Christians do not merely belong to Jesus Christ as all human beings undoubtedly belong to him, but do so in such a way that the work which Jesus Christ does in the world is also the meaning of their action; the fight which Jesus Christ wages in the darkness against darkness is the cause to which they dedicate themselves.” (Karl Barth, 1886-1968)
Christ said: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me″ (Matt 16:24). It is not easy for me as a human being to live as a true Christian. I face obstacles and denials... Questions and doubts emerge, too. A continuous battle is waged in me between what God wants me to do and what I want. Then I remember that even in my darkest night, Jesus is near me. He is my light and my guide. To him I lift up my soul. It is good to trust and hope in the Lord. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) With him, I will succeed.