Updated: Jan 2
By Luke Lancaster
Tied in with unforgiveness is the mortal sin of hatred. This is where our anger and desire for revenge towards another person reaches a high point. Our desire for revenge intensifies into wanting to do something serious to the other. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm” (para. 2303). This is unfortunately something that we may struggle with when somebody hurts us, however, we are called to forgive them. Why? Because our lives are not our own.
We have Christ’s life within us, for “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” (Gal. 2:20). Christ’s eternal life flows through our veins, and He hated no one. If we do hate somebody, then that life in us ceases until we repent. Scripture says, “Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn. 3:15). Christ’s life on earth had every reason to desire vengeance towards us and our constant offenses towards Him. However, even though we were His enemies, He still loved us.
How could we not return the favor? We need to pray for our offender and still be loving towards him or her. That demonstrates forgiveness of heart. Of course, there are times where the offender is damaging our mental health and we need to lovingly distance ourselves from them. But even in that situation, we can pray with Christ, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).