Definition of forgiveness
Once upon a time there was a woman to whom God came and spoke face to face.
At least, that’s what she thought was happening – but being very devout and aware that The Enemy sometimes comes disguised as an angel of light, she went to her Parish Priest and asked his advice.
Disturbed by her story and lacking confidence to discern the truth of the matter, he sent her off to the Bishop.
The Bishop was deeply sceptical – this was, after all, not just a lay person but a woman to boot! Thinking he knew exactly how to trip her up, expose her for the charlatan he assumed she was, he said:
“There is only one way to know for sure whether it is the voice of God that you hear. Next time God speaks to you, ask him to tell you my secret sin – the one I have confessed only to Him.”
The woman bowed before the Bishop and went her way.
A week later she returned.
“Well?” asked the Bishop smugly. “What did God say?”
The woman bowed in deference, and then looked the Bishop in the eye and replied”I asked God, as you directed, to disclose to me your secret sin. God looked me in the eye, smiled, and told me to tell you that He can’t remember.”
The above is the best story I’ve ever read on God’s forgiveness. I can’t quite remember (!) where, so sadly can’t acknowledge the source, but it has to me the feel of a story from Anthony de Mello.