The message given to Blessed Faustina calls for us to trust in God in all situations, ask for His mercy, and be merciful to others. As God forgives our sins, we are to forgive others of their transgressions. "And whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (Mark 11:25)

Forgiveness is so difficult after someone has hurt us! The pain we carry can be as severe and as deep as a wound festering with infection for years. How could one forgive another after murdering oneís family, stealing property, or treating others as animals? Yet, even if the aggressor is not sorry, the one injured who holds anger is the one bound in chains. It is only through letting go of the anger and asking God for the grace of forgiveness that the chains are broken.

God, as in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), is looking and waiting for us, accepting our pleas of repentance and sorrow. We are to be merciful to others as He is merciful to us. Jesus told Blessed Faustina on one occasion during Eucharistic adoration "these rays of mercy will pass through you, just as they have passed through this Host, and they will go out through all the world." (Diary, p.441) She wrote on June 20, 1937, "We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors." (Diary, p.1148) Forgiveness means more than avoiding interaction with those who have hurt us. Scripture is clear that as our Heavenly Father loves us, we are to love others. "You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18) We should have the attitude of Christ, who while suffering on the cross for us, said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

Forgiveness is easier if we can avoid being judgmental. We should not be like the Pharisees, who saw all the serious faults in others but not in themselves. If we could only be as exacting on ourselves as we are on others! Arenít we all so quick to criticize, condemn and judge, yet how easily we overlook our own faults by justifying and rationalizing for your conduct and defects. " Why do you see the speck that is in your brotherís eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3)

Many carry anger and guilt for years, only to see unresolved issues manifested as aberrant behavior in the form of negativism, outbursts of violence, and addictive behaviors. Many turn to alcohol, drugs, of the flesh for relief of pain. Yet only Jesus can bring everlasting peace. If we are to be icons of mercy, we must be as serene as a calm lake, reflecting His rays of love and mercy. Forgiveness of those who have hurt us will help calm our troubled waters.

Reflect on the passage: "He that takes vengeance will suffer vengeance from the Lord, and he will firmly establish his sins. Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when your pray. Does a man harbor anger against another, and yet seek for healing from the Lord? Does he have no mercy toward a man like himself and yet pray for his own sins?" (Sirach 28:1-4)

O Lord, give us the grace to forgive so we can have peace in our hearts. Free us from the shackles that bind us and help us become the beautiful people we are called to be.