“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, / Lord, who could stand? / But with you there is forgiveness, / so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” – Psalm 130

Forgiveness is essential to God’s nature. The Lord is a merciful God, He forgives us easily and does not hold on to our sins. As our psalm today points out, God forgives us so that we might serve Him. But how well do we forgive each other?

Jesus teaches us to pray by asking God to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But when do we forgive each other? I don’t know if this is just a me thing, but usually when someone apologizes to me, I brush it off with my response. Someone says “Sorry I was late!” — and I say “No worries.” Someone says “Sorry I forgot” —  and I reply “It’s ok.” But when do I say the words “I forgive you”? Do I really forgive them for what they did? Am I just pretending it doesn’t matter? If I did forgive them, do they really know that I did?

In Catholicism, the sacrament of Confession plays an important role in the lives of the faithful. We confess our sins, we ask God for forgiveness, and that’s something you should do in prayer alone. However, what makes Confession so much more special than praying alone is that we hear Him (in the voice of a priest) say the words “You are forgiven.” It’s a tangible sign of the reality that God forgives us for our sins.  

Take some time this Lent to see if you believe that you are forgiven. After all, the whole point of Lent is to prepare for the moment that forgave you, the death and resurrection of Christ. Ask God to tell you of His mercy, that you might serve Him in thanks for this gift. And next time someone says “I’m sorry,” think about literally forgiving them; they might need to hear it too.

Emily Shoemaker ’21 is a junior in Eliot House studying Computer Science.