John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1. 4 - 11
As we prepare for the Baptism of our Lord on Sunday, we read the appointed gospel from Mark, which tells the story of John the Baptizer proclaiming "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." I suspect we all long to be forgiven somehow in someplace in our lives, some of us forgiven by ourselves, others by friends or family.
In this little passage from Forgiveness, Caren Goldman explores the dangers of unforgiveness and the joy of the transformation that comes with forgiveness. The acronym REACH reinforces well how we can achieve forgiveness. I hope these words can move us all closer to a place of peace where we can hear the words of God just as Jesus did when he was baptized, "This is my Beloved in whom I am well pleased. " Mark 1. 11
From “Forgiveness” in Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit by Caren Goldman
We all know that forgiving oneself and others for mistakes, hurts, and other painful transgressions can have a
positive impact on the way old wounds heal. But have you ever considered the role of unforgiveness—the
opposite of forgiveness—in the healing process?
Psychologist Everett Worthington, a leading voice in the field of forgiveness, says unforgiveness refers to a
jumble of negative emotions that people feel when someone has hurt them. He knows these emotions well.
Shortly after publishing a book on forgiveness, his mother was brutally murdered. "I had to decide whether what I
had written was for other people or if l could use it too,” he admitted.
The negative emotions associated with unforgiveness can include bitterness, resentment, hostility, anger,
hatred, and fear. "Most people," he explains, "think that forgiveness is that thing you do to get rid of
unforgiveness, but it turns out there are probably twenty-five things you can do to get rid of unforgiveness without
To truly forgive, one must replace the inner negative emotions of unforgiveness with positive, other-oriented
emotions. These include love, compassion, and empathy. "Forgiveness is something I grant, so it's an emotional
process within me," he says. Furthermore, forgiveness does not occur until we experience a transformation from
the negative to the positive. For example, until love or compassion replace anger, there is no forgiveness.
When we forgive another, our entire emotional orientation toward the person who hurt us changes. "That
change will filter into your behavior and brain biochemistry, your facial expressions, body posture, and daily life,
any time you think about or have to deal with that person," says Worthington, who uses an acronym to REACH
R-Recall the hurt and acknowledge that a wrong was done to you. Set your sights on repair of the wrong.
E-Empathize with the person who hurt you by trying to understand his or her motivations.
A-Altruism: give the gift of forgiveness.
C-Commit to forgiveness.
H-Hold on to forgiveness