The great Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci sat before his canvas to paint ‘The Last Supper’, a painting depicting Jesus having his last supper with his twelve apostles. He suddenly left his canvas began angrily quarreling with another man, hurling bitter accusations and threats against him. When he returned to continue painting, He found it impossible to paint the face of Jesus. He then set down his paint brushes, sealed his paint pots, reached out to the man and sought forgiveness. He returned to his workshop to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece.
On another occasion, Leornardo da Vinci was assigned to paint ‘The Last Supper’ on the walls of a convent Chapel. He roamed the streets of Milan, Italy, to look for men who could pose for the painting of Jesus and the twelve apostles. He found a strong, graceful looking man to pose for the apostle John. In the years that followed he found different men to pose for the apostles but could not find anyone to pose for the painting of Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus. He finally found a pale-faced, dejected-looking man to pose for Judas. When the painting was completed, the man looked at his face in the painting saying “I am the same person who posed for the apostle John, years ago. When I began to dwell in anger, hatred, un-forgiveness, I lost the joy of life, becoming pale and dejected”.
Anger, un-forgiveness and hatred block our potential to happiness. Saint Paul exhorts us to forgive by looking at God’s forgiveness upon us. In his letter to the Colossians he says ”Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13)
Christians across the world deeply contemplate on the mercy and forgiveness of God during the forty days that precede Easter. This season called Lent is a time when we make efforts to forgive others through fasting and prayer.
Jesus taught people the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ exhorting people to cherish God’s forgiveness and to forgive others in turn “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” (Mark 6:12). Jesus himself, hanging helplessly on the cross, in His last moments forgave those who crucified him saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
We want to be forgiven but do not want to forgive. Forgiveness always seems so easy to ask for, when we need it, but so hard when we need to give it. Even when the most valid criticisms are hurled at us, we at times are not willing to accept them because of our frailty and insufficiency. When we realize that we are wounded and inadequate ourselves, we find it easier to overlook the faults of others.
Practice forgiveness. Forgiveness heals both, the giver and the receiver.