The Pope reminded us that the very essence of the Good News is its message of hope and real optimism. He wrote “Optimism is the fruit of Christian hope and the result of its action on the Christian soul. It flows from the trust of man in Divine Providence. This optimism is evident in the kind of character that is restrained and modest, who recognizes what is the inherent weakness in man, and that which hinders his fight against evil”.
Let the example of the John Paul II make us desire to look at others as Jesus looks, to judge people and to love them as He does. Our strength must be in prayer, which helps us to resist pessimism and resignation. If you look at others through the heart of Jesus, your mind will detect only the good in people in spite of anything others might say about them.
Optimism and belief in the human condition can only be born out of forgiveness of those who have offended you in the past. The process of forgiveness is sometimes difficult the stronger our sensitivity is, and lack of understanding of the weakness in the human condition, can add to the difficulty of forgiveness. You must remember always that Christ understood and forgave your weakness, so you must learn to understand others weaknesses, which are part of the human condition, and then taking this into account, forgive them.
It is easy for us, sometimes too easy, to ask forgiveness for our indiscretion or mistake, but we may find it hard to forgive the same indiscretion in another. Therefore, when someone talks about forgiveness and asks for forgiveness, there should not be a condition that those who we are to forgive, and become reconciled with, should confess their guilt against us. Our forgiveness should be like Christ’s for us, unconditional.
Remember God forgave us unconditionally on the Cross. He did not ask us to admit our guilt first. Willingness to forgive those “who trespass against us” will be a sign and call to conversion and is also a measure of our mature faith and true self-esteem. That is why to forgive, also means to ask for forgiveness and to receive forgiveness. This is not a matter of courage or emotional indulgence, but it is a guarantee of liberation from evil, that leads straight to a deep, spiritual joy. “We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbours”. (Diary 1148)
To forgive we have to move in the right direction - to descend deep down into the bottom of our hearts. We need to meet with what hurts. We need to meet with our own failures, with the evil that is in us. Only then can we raise ourselves high, before the face of God and there with confidence in our heart, cry out for His mercy and help us forgive.
God does not want from us only what is good and decent, God wants us just as we are. He wants to wipe our tears and touch what is weak, poor and evil within us in order to heal and transform us. Thomas Merton once wrote: “Only the man who stood face to face with despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. He said, “Those who do not feel the need for God’s mercy, lose out, because they never look for it, and never therefore experience the beautiful warmth and strength of God’s mercy”.
So it is sometimes better to experience despair in order to experience God’s mercy, rather than to go through life with a feeling of self-satisfaction, never recognizing the need for forgiveness and mercy. Life without problems can literally be more hopeless than the one who lives on the shores of despair”.
Our prayer for God’s mercy often resembles an effort of begging God for mercy and yet God does not need to be begged to show us His Mercy. He simply is always merciful if we just ask. He loves to forgive, He loves to be Merciful. St. Faustina wrote in her Diary the words of Jesus, “With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return”. (Diary 1728)
Even the most famous story in the history of mercy was man bargaining with God to save Sodom. It was really a long process to understand that the Almighty was not happy with the tragedy of Sodom, and that any compromise would give Him a reason to save the city. If the Sodomites had behaved like the people of Nineveh who were very deeply moved on hearing the teaching of Jonah they could have been saved.
Often, we are overcome with blindness because we do not see that He Himself wants to show mercy to us and that He is infinitely more sensitive than the most compassionate of men. Is it not God’s wisdom that triggers in us an attitude that makes the Father give us everything, even though we do not ask for it?
Life is a great adventure of constant discovery, during which time we discover new obstacles that present themselves every day. Could we overcome them continuously if we didn’t have this gift of God’s mercy to help us? How much do we owe Him? Our intelligence should tell us the answer, “everything”. Our heart should tell us how beautiful the love of God is, and which is with us at all times.
Thanks to all this love we experience a great adventure, which is life. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes, so that we are able to see these signs of hope and love, just open your eyes to the Spirit.