Focus on the Joy of Forgiveness
By Steve Hable
One of the popular traditional hymns during the Christmas season is “Joy to the World.” Certainly the birth of our Lord is a joyous occasion and cause for celebration. As we approach Easter, we also have reason to be joyful.
Holy Week contains a variety of emotions for us. It begins with Maundy Thursday when we commemorate the Last Supper. We recall the loving, service gesture of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. Of course, the main focus is the first communion and the statement from Christ that he will soon leave the disciples to go and do only what he can do. In recognition of the first communion, some European countries have declared Maundy Thursday a national holiday.
Good Friday recalls the suffering and death of Jesus. Instead of making a proclamation that our sins are forgiven, Jesus is publically humiliated, beaten, and nailed to the cross. Instead of saving himself, he opts for a horrible death to save us. Many people throughout the world attend church on Good Friday to recognize Christ’s sacrifice. Finally, we all rejoice on Easter morning as Jesus is raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.
Too often we rush through the significance of each day of Holy week to get to the grand finale, Easter. I recently completed another 4-day “Kairos weekend” at Donovan State Prison. One of the main focal points of the Kairos program is forgiveness and the joy forgiveness brings. The process is similar to Holy Week. The inmates face separation and often desertion from their family and friends. They are angry with themselves, their relatives, other inmates, the correctional officers, and feel betrayed. I have been blessed to learn a lot from my Christian brothers in the prison. When they come to realize that Jesus died for them, that He forgives them for all that they have done, then all of their burdens shift to Jesus. The joy of forgiveness is very evident in each man. The men realize they need to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.” Their anger subsides and they are able to cope easier with life in the prison system.
This Holy Week let us also focus on the joy of forgiveness. Observe each day as a special day and on Easter recognize that Jesus has not only taken away our sins, but also gives us the means to forgive others. Enjoy the comfort and peace of Easter!