August 27, 2021

Love’s Litmus / Natalie Hoefer

Couple’s actions and attitude show love is not resentful

Natalie HoeferIt was a deal gone bad. The results were unintended, but the damage was financially substantial.

A friend of mine shared the story with me. His parents, devout members of a non-Catholic congregation, had contributed money into an investment opportunity offered by a member of their church.

But the investment fell through. Rather than be honest with his investors about the loss of their money, he “falsified statements to buy some time.”

He was eventually found out and spent time in prison.

My friend’s parents lost a significant amount of money. But as strong Christians, they chose the loving way of 1 Cor. 13:4-8, particularly that love “is not resentful.”

They visited the man in prison several times, assuring him of their forgiveness.

The couple also provided financial support to the failed investor’s wife while he was in prison, knowing that she was a stay-at-home mother of two and not involved in her husband’s actions. They looked beyond the hurt and recognized she was a victim as well and needed help.

My friend’s parents never held a grudge against the man. They do not discuss the incident now, embracing the attitude that the act is in the past.

Their actions and attitude are a prime example of love not just forgiving, but forgetting.

When St. Faustina Kowalska—to whom Christ gave the Divine Mercy image and message—told her confessor she had an apparition of Christ, the priest wondered if it instead was a manifestation of the devil or a demon.

“If he visits again, ask him what I confessed the last time I received the sacrament of penance,” he requested.

The next time they met, St. Faustina had had another apparition. She had asked Christ the priest’s question, and the answer she shared with the priest convinced him it was indeed Christ appearing.

“Tell him I don’t remember,” Christ had responded to the question—the true response of a God who forgives and forgets our sins, a God who shows mercy, a God who is not resentful.

We are called to imitate God’s example. It isn’t easy.

When we find it hard to forgive a wrong and move on, we would do well to remember that love is a doing, not a feeling. It is a choice more often than a compulsion.

If we find it difficult to make the choice to not be resentful, to forgive and forget, St. Paul reminds us that “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). As has been done to us, so we should do to others.

And if we still find it hard to not shed resentment, we can always fall into the open arms of our loving God and say, “I can’t do it. You be the one to act in me. You be the one to forgive, and help me forgive through your grace.

“And please forgive me in the process.”
 

(Send your stories of people you know who live out agape as described by St. Paul in 1 Cor 13:4-7 to Natalie Hoefer at nhoefer@archindy.org, or call 317-236-1486 or 800-932-9836, ext. 1486. Include your parish and a daytime phone number where you may be reached.)

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