ChristianityRichly

The Sunflower

In Christianity on June 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Have been reading The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, by Simon Wiesenthal.

Christ makes all the difference in our ability to forgive. If you believe that God only created (and then stood back to watch or perhaps even “went on leave,” as one character in the book suggests), then no adequate model for forgiveness exists.

But if you know that God in Christ assumed our flesh, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and suffered all we suffer — more, for He suffered patiently at the hands of His own creation! —  then of course we forgive.  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Do we forgive and forget? No. To do so would dishonor those against whom grave injustice was committed. Rather, in the words of Miroslav Volf, we exercise the extraordinary grace of “the nontheoretical act of nonremembering.”¹

Even the impossible act of undoing what was done would not suffice to achieve the final redemption, because the memory of what was done, unless erased, would still remain to afflict the person. Only a much more radical act of “making what happened not to have happened” would do, because if what happened was made not to have happened, then what was remembered would have been made not to have been remembered too. Which is to say, to have final redemption one may want more than “the transformation of the world plus the loss of the memory of suffering,” but one cannot want less.

Only nonremembering can end the lament over suffering which no thought can think away and no action undo.² Apparently — as we understand Holy Scripture, at least — even the Holy Trinity, infinite and all-knowing, exercise this nontheoretical act of nonremembering:  “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

How does this help us explicate and deepen the commitment we make when we pray the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others who trespass against us?”

(From 2012 prayer journal, 11 June)

¹ Miroslav Volf, Exclusion & Embrace (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996), p. 135. Read and meditate on the flow of Volf’s full argument on pp. 134-136, as well as the following pages, where Volf deals with the objection, “How dare God forget!”

² Ibid.

  1. […] The Sunflower « Christianity Richly Have been reading The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, by Simon Wiesenthal. Christ makes all the difference in our ability to forgive. If you believe that God only created (and then stood back to watch or perhaps even … https://christianityrichly.com/ — Wed, 13 Jun 2012 07:23:57 -0700 […]

  2. Nice post. I will pass on this book recommendation to a couple of family members that need to learn to forgive.

    Amazingly this is one thing that is not difficult for me. I can just let it go. Sometimes my simple mind is a great asset.

    Thanks
    Michael

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