Forgiveness is fire.
I’d rather avoid it. I hate to go near it. The closer you get, the hotter you feel—and the more you fear the burn.
But Jesus said this is the Way.
The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that forgiveness may be the hardest part of the Christian life. Service, sacrifice, surrender—no part of this Way is easy. But forgiveness is fire. I want to run far away.
Yet here is Azariah in today’s First Reading, standing up in the furnace fire where King Nebuchadnezzar is trying to kill him and his friends. Surrounded by scorching flames, he’s singing praise and forgiveness.
Here is Jesus, answering Peter’s hard question with an even harder parable. His words burn with truth: all the ways I want God to forgive me, even when I resist sharing the same with others.
Forgiveness is fire. It sears away my selfishness and self-righteousness. It burns away my longing to lick my wounds and nurse a grudge.
But without forgiveness, I smolder. I need to walk through those flames like a purification. I’ve seen what the opposite of forgiveness does to families and friendships—how hard-heartedness freezes like ice, slow as glaciers to melt, immovable over generations.
My only choice, if I am to walk in Christ’s Way, is to choose the fire of forgiveness.
To stand up, even in the midst of flames, and sing of God’s goodness. To spread the mercy God has shown me to all who wrong me. To humble myself back into the purifying fire whenever I fail to live up to the love I’m called to live.
We started Lent with ashes. We will journey to Pentecost’s flames. How will the fire of forgiveness grow in us, all the way to Easter and beyond?
We hope you will journey through Easter with this book to keep the fire growing.
Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and director of a theological project on vocation. She and her husband are raising four sons and wrote a book together on grieving the loss of children, Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage. She is the author of seven books including Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting and Living Your Discipleship: 7 Ways to Express Your Deepest Calling. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of the Blessed Conversations Mystery: Behold study found here.