The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has called on Nigerians residing in conflict and violence areas of Nigeria to forgive those who have brought them pain and tears.
According to him, Jesus response to Peter in Matthew 18:22 stating forgiveness should be as many as 77 times, showed that there was no limit to forgiveness.
The cleric said this in Abuja on Sunday while delivering his Homily at the Holy Cross Parish in Apo on Sunday.
He said forgiveness was paramount to enable speedy social integration, healing and development in affected areas.
Taking his scriptural readings from the books of; Sirach 27:30-28:7; Romans 14: 7-9; Mathew 18: 21-35, the Cleric said that although human beings find it difficult to forgive when badly hurt, it was important to reconcile with one another and forgive unconditionally, so they, in turn, would receive God’s forgiveness.
He urged Christians to stop counting the number of times they forgive and desist from the practice of retributive justice in the Old Testament of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” as good followers of Christ.
Kaigama said, “Forgiveness takes various forms: the forgiveness an individual receives from God; the forgiveness one offers to another, the forgiveness I receive from another person; the forgiveness a group offers to another group, which is what we badly need in various parts of Nigeria today experiencing violence and conflicts, leading to the wasting of human lives and resources.
“Whole-hearted forgiveness by all is what will heal Nigerians and speed up our social integration and progress. Some of us make the mistake that they have not offended anyone and so they have no need of forgiveness.
“You have to remember that sometimes your presence, your disposition, your body language, your talents, the way you speak or do your work which you consider normal, offend and upset others and generate unhealthy anger or even deep seated jealousy for inexplicable reasons. The solution is: offer forgiveness and beg for forgiveness.
“We should pray for the grace to forgive no matter how hurt or bitter we may feel. We must also pray that God will give those who feel offended because of our not deliberate actions, acts of omissions and commissions, to know that we mean no harm to them so that they can liberate themselves of the feelings of bitterness and prejudice against us. Many around us go about imagining that some people are their enemies, and they invoke “Holy Ghost fire” to burn and consume such enemies.
“With genuine forgiveness most social crises can be curtailed and brought under control. Peace can be restored in broken homes, society and the world at large.”