Megan McKenna shares her wisdom with Our Lady of Guadalupe on Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice

Over the course of three days in December international speaker, story teller, scripture scholar, theologian and author Megan McKenna provided us with vital tools to help us with Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Restorative Justice.

Archetypon Organizer
Day One: Forgiveness
Stacks Image 100

Forgiveness is a process of steps. This is the gospel message—the good news of God to the human family. We are forgiven, made whole, made holy in Jesus' incarnation, life, death and resurrection. We are to forgive as a lifestyle (not just a practice). To forgive 70 times 7 is to stop counting and start practicing forever, for all things, all people, all times and circumstances, etc. To forgive is to give life in God, to share in God's way of relating to people, to all of us, the beloved children of God. We begin with forgiveness and this concept/way of relating develops into other ways of living with God and one another on earth. This way of living, of following Jesus as a disciple entails a number of levels and practice.

Archetypon Organizer
Day Two: Reconciliation
Stacks Image 120

The word reconciliation means "to walk together again" (as with Jesus walking with Peter on the beach at the end of John's gospel, being called three times to profess once again his love for Jesus, after his 3 times betraying in public that he didn't even know Jesus, or being associated with him let alone being one of his disciples, and even cursing his name.) This is mutual forgiveness in community, the second gift of the Good News of God to us. See Matthew 18 for how to do this pragmatically.

The practical are simple and hard to actually practice.

  1. Forego—vengeance, revenge, hate, anger and rage, getting even
  2. Forebear— bear your share of the burden of the gospel gracefully
  3. Forget—make new memories so that next time you see that person you don't start with the old feelings.
  4. Forgive—pray for them, give over to the future and extend a gesture of solidarity and re-connection

Archetypon Organizer
Day Three: Restorative Justice
Stacks Image 136

In Hebrew it is the concept of Tikkum Olam (to repair the world), to repair the damage done, to restore the balance, to undo what has been done to the extent that it is possible, to accept and live with the consequences of one's actions, to take responsibility in public for what one has done and to gracefully make amends. This is the underlying basis for what was given as a 'penance' after confessing one's sins. But it is meant to be actively righting of wrong, not prayers.
Atonement is to make all At-one, to bring together again, to remember again, in unity, in communion, to make peace, bending to the needs of the community/communities. To dwell in peace, the peace of Christ, the Risen Lord—and it is the beginning of living resurrection life now—that was initiated and begun in our baptisms. The 'end' result of forgiveness and reconciliation is to keep, extend and deepen communion among everyone.

Forgiveness is the Glue that Holds the Community Together

  1. We ask for forgiveness daily in praying the OUR FATHER—better translation is "forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us"… two words for debt... first one (ours) is massive, like the national debt—no way we could ever repay it... second word (for others debts) is like nickel and dimes—we are expected—even commanded and demanded that we forgive all others debts.
  2. In the early church, if you refused to forgive another (after 3times) you yourself would be refused forgiveness. It is all bound to our connections and relationships with others. If we take God's forgiveness for ourselves- then it is demanded that we give that forgiveness to others, as graciously as God has
  3. The sign of the cross is the sign of forgiveness and reconciliation—the Good News. We are signed with it—even made in its image—our relationship with God (vertical) is only as deep and true as our relationship with others—extended out to our enemies. (horizontal).
  4. Forgiveness begins with justice—what is due to the other, the reality that we are all sinners. [the word 'sin' means to miss the mark—the original marks of being a Christian] Only after justice is rendered can we begin to speak about mercy. Would you prefer that God deal with you justly or mercifully? First God will do justice, then mercy is born out of justice. Justice is what one deserves. Mercy—no one ever deserves this depth of compassion/forgiveness and being reborn into the heart.