THE PARDONING OF OFFENCES
14. How many times must I forgive my brothers and sisters? Not just seven times, but seventy times seven. Here we have the teaching of Jesus which should most strike the intelligence, and speak most loudly to our hearts. If these words of mercy are compared with the prayer He taught to His disciples, that prayer so simple, so concise, yet so great in its aspirations, you will always encounter the same thought. Jesus, the pre-eminently just One, replies to Peter with these words: "You must forgive without limit; you must forgive each offence as many times as it is done to you; your brothers and sisters on Earth must be taught that it is forgetfulness of self which makes a person invulnerable to attack, misbehaviours and insults; your heart must be mild and humble without measuring out your gentleness; in short, you must do whatever you wish the Celestial Father to do for you. Is He not frequently forgiving you? Have you by any chance counted how many times His pardon has come down to erase your shortcomings?"
So pay attention to the reply given by Jesus, and like Peter apply it to yourself. Forgive freely, use your indulgence, be charitable and generous, even be lavish with your love. Give and the Lord will make restitution; forgive and the Lord will forgive you; lower yourselves and the Lord will raise you up; humble yourselves and the Lord will take you to sit on His right hand.
Dearly beloved, go forth to study and comment on these words which I have spoken on the part of He, Who, from the heights of celestial splendor is always watching over you. Proceed lovingly in the thankless task which began eighteen centuries ago. Forgive your fellow men as you would wish that they forgive you. If their acts cause you personal harm, then this is just one more motive for your indulgence, since the merit of forgiveness is in proportion to the seriousness of the wrongdoing. You will gain no merit by overlooking the errors of your fellow men if they are nothing more than simple scratches.
Spiritists, never forget that the pardoning of wrongdoing must not be an empty expression, be it either by word or by action. Since you call yourselves Spiritists, then be so with all fervour. Forget all evil that has been done to you and think of nothing save one thing: the good that you can do. Those who follow this path must not stray from it even in thought, which is known to God, seeing that each one is responsible for their thoughts. Take care therefore, to expunge from yourselves all rancorous sentiments. What remains at the bottom of the hearts of each one of His children is known to God. So happy is he who can sleep at night saying: I have nothing against my neighbour. - SIMON (Bordeaux, 1862).
15. To forgive one's enemies is to ask for forgiveness for oneself. To forgive one 5 friends is to give them proof of your friendship. To be able to forgive offences is to show yourself better than you were. So then, my friends, forgive others in order that God may forgive you, since if you are hard, demanding, inflexible, or if you use severity even against a small offence, how can you expect God to forget that each day you have even greater necessity of indulgence? Oh! Woe to those who say: "I will never forgive," for they pronounce their own condemnation! Moreover, if you searched deeper down inside, perhaps you would find that it is yourself who is the aggressor. In the fight which began as a pinprick and ended in rupture, who knows if the first blow was not cast by you, being the one who let escape harsh words of offence, or perhaps you did not proceed with all the necessary moderation? Without doubt your adversary behaved badly by showing himself to be exceedingly susceptible, but this is yet another reason for being indulgent, so as not to allow yourself to become deserving of the tirade which was launched against you. Let us admit, for the moment, that in a given circumstance you were really offended; who is able to tell if you would not further poison the matter by means of reprisals, or that you would not cause the situation to degenerate into a grave quarrel, when in actual fact the whole matter could easily be forgotten? If the prevention of the consequences of this fact depended on you, and you did nothing to impede them, then you are truly guilty. Finally, let us admit that you do not consider yourself to be deserving of any censure; in this case your merit would be even greater if you showed yourself to be clement.
Nevertheless, there are two very different ways of forgiving, the one being of the lips and the other of the heart. Many people say to their adversary "I forgive you" while inwardly rejoicing at the evil that has returned to them, commenting that he or she has only received what they deserved. How many others say "I forgive you," hastening to add "But I will never be reconciled nor do I ever want to see you again in this life!" Is this then forgiveness according to the Gospel? Surely not! True Christian forgiveness is that which casts a veil over the past and seeing that God is not satisfied with appearances alone, this can be the only kind of forgiveness to be taken into consideration. He listens to the innermost recesses of our hearts, to our most secret thoughts and is never satisfied with mere words or pretence. Complete and absolute forgiveness of all offences is peculiar to great souls, whereas rancour is always a sign of baseness and inferiority. So then, do not forget that true pardon is recognisable for its acts, rather than by the use of mere words. - PAUL, the Apostle (Leon, 1861).