The Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has called on Nigerians residing in conflict and violence ridden areas of the country to forgive those who have brought them pain and tears.
Delivering his homily at the Holy Cross Parish in Apo yesterday in Abuja, he said forgiveness was paramount to enable speedy social integration, healing and development in affected areas.
Taking his scriptural readings from the books of; Sirach 27:30-28:7; Romans 14: 7-9; Mathew 18: 21-35, the cleric noted that although human beings find it difficult to forgive when badly hurt, it was important to reconcile with one another and forgive unconditionally, so they in turn would receive God’s forgiveness.
According to him, Jesus response to Peter in Matthew 18:22 stating forgiveness should be as many as seventy-seven times, showed that there was no limit to forgiveness. He urged Christians to stop counting the number of times they forgive and desist from the practice of retributive justice in the Old Testament of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” ad good followers of Christ.
“Forgiveness takes various forms: the forgiveness an individual receives from God; the forgiveness one offers to another, the forgiveness I receive from another person; the forgiveness a group offers to another group, which is what we badly need in various parts of Nigeria today experiencing violence and conflicts, leading to the wasting of human lives and resources.
“Whole-hearted forgiveness by all is what will heal Nigerians and speed up our social integration and progress.
“Some of us make the mistake that they have not offended anyone and so they have no need of forgiveness. You have to remember that sometimes your presence, your disposition, your body language, your talents, the way you speak or do your work which you consider normal, offend and upset others and generate unhealthy anger or even deep seated jealousy for inexplicable reasons.
The solution is; offer forgiveness and beg for forgiveness. “We should pray for the grace to forgive no matter how hurt or bitter we may feel. We must also pray that God will forgive those who feel offended because of our actions that are not deliberate, acts of omission and commission, to know that we mean no harm to them so that they can liberate themselves of the feelings of bitterness and prejudice against us.
Many around us go about imagining that some people are their enemies, and they invoke “Holy Ghost fire” to burn and consume such enemies. “With genuine forgiveness most social crises can be curtailed and brought under control. Peace can be restored in broken homes, society and the world at large.
“We free our hearts of all the negative feelings and effects of resentment:m, hostility, hatred, insecurity and hurtful feelings, which cause us emotional, psychological and physical harm; we remove the toxic wastes from our souls. Forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than the forgiven. It is therapeutic. “Forgiving one who offends us is a prerequisite for receiving God’s forgiveness.