Picking Up the Pieces

Going to confession and asking for God’s forgiveness is not always enough, especially when we hurt
or offend someone. We must go to that person and express our apology and our regret if we are
truly sorry for what we have done. It is not enough either to ask for forgiveness. The person who
has caused the hurt and is truly sorry must be humble enough to express her/his repentance without
asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift that is freely granted by the person that has been hurt.
Repentance is what we offer and forgiveness is what we are freely given.
This is what a Christian does when she/he has hurt or offended another person. We need to return
to the person and express our repentance. What is granted to us from this action is something that
is out of our control and oftentimes, it is the result of our actions. For this, we must also take
responsibility without demanding anything.
This may be hard to accept. But, think about it, why would I express my contrition to a person I
haven’t offended, when it is my responsibility to express it to the person that I did offend? Why
would I do that if I don’t do it with the intention of being strengthened to go and ultimately do what I
truly need to do? Just to get it out of my system? So that I can feel better?
If we are truly sorry and we want to “pick up the pieces,” we need to do what is right although it may
be difficult. And, this is where we need to bring God in to the situation, express my regret and my
repentance to God with the desire for the grace of humility to go and say “I’m sorry” to the one who
needs to or should hear it from me.
So, ‘if on my way to confession or to Mass, I remember that someone may be hurt or offended
because of me, I need to turn back, try to reconcile myself with the person I have offended, and then
go and seek the forgiveness of God, if my contrition truly comes from a repentant heart.’ The secret
blessing in all of this, no matter how humbling and difficult it is for us, is that the practice of such
sincere humility helps us to forgive ourselves too, which oftentimes, is even harder to do.
Sisters and brothers, as we travel this road of Lent, let us say to the Lord as those disciples said to
him on the road to Emmaus: “Stay with us, Lord.” Yes! Stay with us and give us always the
integrity, the strength and the humility to “pick up the pieces.”
You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Friar Julio

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