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By Fr Jim Cogley

While forgiveness is something we all believe it’s not until we’re hurt that we discover just how difficult it can be. Years ago while at the bedside of a man who was dying but deeply troubled I asked him if there was someone he needed to forgive. With tears in his eyes he immediately said his brother and sister. He hadn’t spoken to either of them for forty years, all over a parents will. It was obvious that he had made the grievance his badge of identity for half his lifetime and it was sad to see a man on his death bed who was now no bigger than his grudge. He agreed that he had carried the resentment for far too long and that he needed to release it through forgiveness. As he chose to forgive his eyes seemed to light up and before drawing his last breath he said, ‘The lights of Heaven how lovely’. For forty years his fists had been closed in bitterness, now at last they were open and he was ready to enter and receive the Kingdom. I often wondered that if he hadn’t forgiven what darkness might have enveloped his soul as he passed over. If his soul wasn’t free on this side what chance would it have had on the other? It’s a frightening thing to say we will never forgive because not to do so is to carry an issue not just to the grave but beyond as well.


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