Confession is nothing but humility in action. … When there is a gap between me and Christ, when my love is divided, anything can come to fill the gap. Confession is a place where I allow Jesus to take away from me everything that divides, that destroys.
Mother Teresa, No Greater Love

Christian forgiveness should not be a refusal of strength, but rather ought to manifest an alternative power; Christian love, whether of neighbors or of enemies, should be a sign not of repressed anger and hatred but of anger and hatred confronted and, eventually, overcome and transcended; it should not be an internalized guilt that further diminishes and destroys but a truthful engagement with the causes and motivations underlying the situation of brokenness.
L. Gregory Jones, Embodying Forgiveness

Instead of genuine forgiveness, our generation has been taught the vague notion of "tolerance." This is, at best, a low-grade parody of forgiveness. At worst, it's a way of sweeping the real issues in human life under the carpet. … Jesus' message [of forgiveness of sins] offers the genuine article and insists that we should accept no man-made substitutes.
N.T. Wright, The Lord and His Prayer

True mercy is, so to speak, the most profound source of justice.
Pope John Paul II, "Dives in Misericordia"

God wants us to be merciful with ourselves. And besides, our sorrows are not our own. He takes them on Himself, into His heart.
George Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

Our first task is not to forgive, but to learn to be the forgiven. Too often to be ready to forgive is a way of exerting control over another. We fear accepting forgiveness from another because such a gift makes us powerless, and we fear the loss of control involved. … Only by learning to accept God's forgiveness as we see it in the life and death of Jesus can we acquire the power that comes from learning to give up control.
Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom

Pardon is an inherent characteristic of the Christian community. To pardon means not to fixate [on] the past but to create possibilities for persons to change and to realign the course of their lives. … Pardon forges Christian community.
Gustavo Gutiérrez, We Drink from Our Own Wells

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for every one has need to be forgiven.
George Herbert, quoted in N. T. Wright, The Lord and His Prayer

[Forgiveness] cannot mean that we cover up a fault with the "mantle of charity." Divine things are never a matter of illusion and deception. On the contrary, before the sin is forgiven the mantle with which it is covered must be removed. The sin must be unmercifully—yes, unmercifully—exposed to the light of God's countenance (Psalm 90).
Helmut Thielicke, Our Heavenly Father

Related Elsewhere:

Past Reflections columns include:

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.