Does forgiveness mean that the person who hurt us gets off scot-free? Do our wounds mean nothing? What do we do with the lingering pain? Do I have to forgive and include? Trust? Love?
Thomas wasn’t there for that conversation. He missed it. Later, when his friends were telling him about it, he didn’t believe them. He said: “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger right through them, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”
And ever since, he’s been known as Thomas, the Doubter.
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When Jesus saw Thomas, he didn’t rebuke him. He didn’t get angry and demand better. He just uttered one word to him:
It’s as if he was saying: “This is real. This is happening. Here are my wounds. They have not been forgotten, just as yours won’t be. But the healing of them comes not through revenge or control or dismissal, but forgiveness.”
If the savior of the world, the God of all things, took three days to rise, then I think us mere mortals need to give ourselves time for the rising, too.F
Forgiveness is a work, a grace; a miracle that happens on the way. It doesn’t excuse or exclude our pain; it includes it. It honors it. It holds pain, then works to let it go. The scars left behind? They’re a testimony to it's healing, transformative power.
In “The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World,” Desmond Tutu said:
“Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world. We heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts. The process is simple, but it is not easy.”
Jesus death and resurrection isn't only about us being forgiven. It invites us to extend forgiveness, too.
Bishop Tuto went on to say:
“Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done. Forgiveness does not erase accountability. It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek.
It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous. Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed. Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation.”
And that transformation?
It rarely happens with bells and whistles and light shows and a chorus. It happens in the everyday, ordinary moments of our lives. Like our friend Thomas, who, in his grief and heartache, walked into a room and came upon a miracle. On the way, in the marrow of our normal lives is where the greatest miracles are always found.
Written by Liz Milani