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 | Deacon John Ruscheinsky Director, Immaculate Heart Retreat Center

Easter 2021

“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:24). Imagine it: Jesus uttering these words even as he is maligned by those who just days before had hailed him as king!  He now finds his own people jeering him, egging on his crucifiers. Amazingly, he is able to ask that they be forgiven. How is that possible? Could you or I have done that? Honestly, probably not.

Even from the torture of the cross, Jesus practiced the word he taught: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions,” (Mathew 6:14-15). We are challenged constantly by his words. We know the insidious clutches of unforgiveness. Why is it so difficult for us to forgive? Why do we stoke the memories of those hurtful words or actions which have wounded us? Or, what keeps us from genuinely accepting forgiveness from those whom we have injured in similar fashion? Perhaps it is our pride. Paralyzed by our hurts, we falsely comfort ourselves as if we are master of everything, even our attitudes and inner spirits.  Really? Do we really know why we do what we do or react the way we do? More importantly, are we willing to live empowered by the risen Lord Jesus?

We obviously live in a time scarred by unforgiveness. In addition to the events of daily life, the isolating pressures of COVID-19 – not to mention the tensions of our political times – have found us saying and doing hurtful things. Or, we find ourselves unexpectedly cut to the quick by someone else’s words. Why are we so ready to lash out or to be so deeply hurt? We strike out or react without really knowing why. How do we forgive, or ask for forgiveness?  

When we do not forgive, or are unwilling to ask for forgiveness, we nurture our personal hurts and the wounds of non-forgiveness fester. They spread ever deeper into our being, becoming a spiritual cancer which gnaws away at our hearts, distancing us from God.

What can we do to set aside our pride to become more forgiving? From my experience at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, I would suggest: Take time to make a retreat and allow the healing power of the Holy Spirit to work. That may sound rather simplistic, but a remedy for the soul is to find time and literally make space to get in touch with the saving power of Jesus, the Risen Lord, whose spirit leads us to new life, forgiveness of sin, and personal wholeness. When IHRC reopens – and the sooner the better! – the people of God once again will have a place where they can make time to encounter God’s forgiving grace and to know the power of forgiveness which Our Lord has made possible for each and every one of us.

A blessed Easter to one and all!

Your servant in Christ,

Deacon John Ruscheinsky

Director, Immaculate Heart Retreat Center