Where There Is Injury, Pardon
Where there is injury, pardon
I am preparing a class on the St. Francis prayer. This prayer while not necessarily straight from St. Francis is a portrait of the life he led. This was his life. From the moment he saw his first vision until his death he lived the words from this prayer. He was and still is a vibrant example of the gospel life. So, while this prayer may or may not be original with St. Francis it describes not only who St. Francis was, but also what a life following Christ really looks like.
I would like to take each line and reflect on it. I have posted my thoughts on this prayer once before and you can find that blog on this site. I may even write a book based on this prayer.
We now come to the third line of this prayer, which could be the considered the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ: forgiveness. The third line of the St. Francis Prayer is about seeking healing and reconciliation in the face of pain, hurt, and loss.
Evil is real. Evil manifests in many ways, the St. Francis Prayer does not shy away from this reality. From its beginning to its powerful conclusion it faces the world as it is and asks that God help us live in healthy and sane ways. This prayer is not about hiding from the world or secluding ourselves in a cave against the bad that does happen, but facing the world head-on and living as Jesus would have us live with love and grace. This prayer is about living as Christians in a broken world that needs more Christ-like people in the world. Evil, hate, despair, doubt, and pain are realities in the world and needs more people like St. Francis who knows that God loves them and lives from that bold reality.
We have all been hurt. This line asks that when we are hurt we forgive, not once but always. We are not perfect people and will hurt each other. The only option we have as honest, humble Jesus followers is to forgive. Forgiveness is not about telling the person who injured us that it was OK, we pardon not to overlook the wrong, but to spread the love and grace given freely by God through Jesus Christ. C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”
Sometimes the one we must forgive is ourselves. This is as much about living into the pardon already given to us. When we embrace our own forgiveness, we will be more able to extend the same to others. Forgiveness is not an easy thing in normal circumstances and this prayer doesn’t expect it from us, but we pray for the power to seek healing and reconciliation in all injuries. On some occasions, we will be unable to pardon that is why we pray this line.
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