Forgiveness is not simply about someone releasing you from the burden of guilt, but about the humility of allowing yourself to be helped to carry the burden that life has placed on your shoulders.
Today’s readings can be found here.
(Note: The liturgical calendar varies somewhat from country to country, reflecting local saints and devotions. Today, the Italian liturgical calendar—the local calendar for Fr. Epicoco—celebrates St. Camillus de Lellis, whereas in the United States of America the saint of the day is St. Kateri Tekakwitha.)
Today the liturgy invites us to commemorate a great saint of charity, St. Camillus de Lellis. What is striking about this man is the manner in which he fulfilled today’s Gospel passage in his life: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Camillus not only spent his life attempting to restore the lives of others by embracing their suffering with service and helpfulness, but he allowed himself to be taken into the arms of mercy by first allowing himself to be forgiven.
In this sense, forgiveness is not simply about someone releasing you from the burden of guilt, but about the humility of allowing yourself to be helped to carry the burden that life has placed on your shoulders, no longer carrying it alone.
In fact, there are things that are now so structural to our lives that they will keep us company until the end of this journey, and those very things Jesus forgives by offering us his shoulder: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
St. Camillus let Christ carry on his shoulders the weight of his addictions, his emotional wounds, and his frustrated desires. Precisely in this way Christ transformed St. Camillus’ life not into a retreat into the past and into himself, but into a total gift of self to his neighbor.
Indeed, the most beautiful effect of forgiveness is to be enabled to give something of ourselves to our neighbor.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.