Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

July 10, 2007

Forgiveness… even when it’s hard!

The topic of love was the main point of a lesson with my juniors one day. They were quite inquisitive about the various types of love expressed by the Greek terms such as eros, phila and agape. Then we moved on to the way we experience love for others. Here I made it a point to leave room for them to think, provoked perhaps by some of my questions regarding their memories of family and friends. They cherished the moments shared with the closest ones in their lives and the love they had for each person. Next was love for enemies, forgiveness. Here we hit a roadblock. I knew it would be a sensitive issue but I felt the need to face it. After I mentioned a few familiar figures in our recent past who may be remembered in a negative way, the majority of the kids agreed that love for enemies is asking too much. My students couldn’t imagine a love for people who committed such terrible crimes.

A recent tragedy that came to the forefront was the Virginia Tech incident. We spoke about what happened and the man responsible for the act but again forgiveness wasn’t an option. Later we read the words of a young person in a Living City magazine article written about the event: “There is Jesus in everyone, and despite the fact that (he) killed numerous people, we have to forgive him and keep loving everyone unconditionally.” We then turned to Jesus’ experience and words: “forgive them Father for they do not know what they do.” We discussed how Jesus loved to the end and wants us to do likewise. Slowly, they became somewhat convinced that they too could maybe have a similar love. Their response to similar topics in the past was “well, we’re not Jesus”, but by discussing and working through it, a light began to shine in the darkness. They started to see that just maybe they can forgive. Seeing their change of heart, and what it was costing, made a huge impression on me.

A prayer by Celeste


“Lord, can you fix my eyesight like you did for the blind man?
I want to see with your eyes those who are teased for being different at school.
I want to see with your eyes the homeless person on a park bench.
I want to see more than people who think that being thinner or stronger makes you more loveable.
I want to see more than people who look at wealth and think that’s what life is all about.
Help me to see with your eyes, Lord! Blind me to the way the world sees so that I won’t give in to judging people on their looks or skin color or possessions or personality.”

Comments

1 Carlos

July 10, 2007
I liked this article very much, especially the idea of loving your enemy, quite a revolutionary concept, especially in today's world. I also think that the aim and end result of "loving an enemy...", in the case of people who commit atrocious acts, such as the one at Virginia Tech, has to be the transformation of "evil" into "good." And, in this respect, only authentic love contains in itself that transforming and changing power and can become the guiding principle which ultimately will bring reconciliation and rehabilitation.

2 Carlos

July 10, 2007
I liked this article very much, especially the idea of loving your enemy, quite a revolutionary concept, especially in today's world. I also think that the aim and end result of "loving an enemy...", in the case of people who commit atrocious acts, such as the one at Virginia Tech, has to be the transformation of "evil" into "good." And, in this respect, only authentic love contains in itself that transforming and changing power and can become the guiding principle which ultimately will bring reconciliation and rehabilitation.

Leave a Comment

High School eNewsletter
Receive bi-weekly lessons, links, tips and more in our Email Newsletter

Resources Archive