Everyone has relationships. Everyone has broken relationships. It’s part of being human. And, in our pain and woundedness, we can build walls to keep the pain out and to keep ourselves from being hurt again.
When we do that, we end up locking ourselves in a prison and locking other people out. To rebuild relationships, we have to tear down the walls.
In his ‘sermon on the mount’ Jesus said - “Happy are those who are merciful to others.” Matthew 5:7 (Today’s English Version). Later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells a story that starts with Peter asking about forgiveness (“How many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me?” – Matthew 18). It’s a story where Jesus measures our capacity to forgive against the forgiveness, the mercy, that God has first shown to us.
Both the beatitude and the parable remind us that we can forgive because we’ve been forgiven. They also remind us that there’s a cost to not forgiving others; that we remain unforgiven ourselves.
So, we have an opportunity to evaluate all our relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us and make amends for harm we’ve done to others.