Forgiveness and reconciliation are two emotions which are both essential to human relationship but very difficult to come by. The former is the process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger for a perceived offence, difference, or mistake and ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.
The latter is a step forward after the above process to restore the relationship. Both forgiveness and reconciliation are important for any human society’s existence.
Consequently, man has been preoccupied by these two related concepts and their benefits. Their centre of gravity tends to shift according to the angle from which you observe them either from the point of view of the person who forgives or the one who is forgiven.
From which ever angle you look at these emotions, forgiveness and reconciliation are compulsory emotions in human relationship as the saying goes; people who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes.
In more practical terms, it is necessary for the offender to take the first step by asking for forgiveness. Even without this conducive situation, man should forgive his or her offender not only because it is human but because it is healthy as well.
A number of studies have shown that people who forgive easily are happier and healthier than those who hold resentment.
From this point of view, it makes sense to forgive without expecting compensation, or any response from the part of the offender.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are matters of urgency and they continue to make sense even to the scandalous level of forgiving a person who is dead.
Christian forgiveness and reconciliation have that element of a scandalous urgency. In other words, you can’t set a limit for them. We may take the example of the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32).
The father forgave and reconciled with his prodigal son at the first sight. The seemingly righteous son did not get it. For him, his lost brother did not deserve it and the father was going too far.
We all deserve forgiveness and reconciliation in our human and divine relationships. In his teaching Jesus put this human need before all other needs and as a matter of urgency. He made it clear when four men brought to him a paralysed man to be cured. (Mk 2:1-12)
When they failed to reach him because of the crowd, they climbed the roof of the house, made a hole in it and lowered the paralysed man in a mat in front of Jesus.
Seeing the faith of the paralysed man and of those who brought him, he said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
The scribes who were standing by were both annoyed and scandalised because they expected to hear Jesus say, “Son, you are physically healed.”
Knowing the thoughts of the scribes, Jesus proceeded and said “ So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” - he said to the man who was paralysed - ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’
Here Jesus teaches us a great lesson on forgiveness and reconciliation. When they lowered the paralysed man in front of him, he saw this man differently from the scribes and the rest of the crowd.
Here was a man spiritually and physically paralysed, a man who badly needed the forgiveness of his sins and to be quickly reconciled with his creator.
It is after re-establishing his relationship with God, that Jesus healed the man of his physical paralysis. We should feel that kind of urgency for forgiveness and reconciliation in our society today.
It is paramount in human society where in most cases everyone has had something wrong done to him or her and where still everyone might have done something wrong to others.
Above all, we all have a duty to be responsible for our wrongs, because there is no reconciliation without responsibility.