PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section Two: The Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father”
Article 3, The Seven Petitions
V. “And Forgive Us Our Trespasses, as We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us” (cont’d)
…as we forgive those who trespass against us
§ 2842 This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36; John 13:34).
It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the Divine Model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the Holiness and the Mercy and the Love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus (cf. Galatians 5:25; Philippians 2:1, 5). Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us (Ephesians 4:32).
§ 2843 Thus, the Lord’s words on forgiveness, the Love that loves to the end (cf. Jn 13:1), become a living reality. The parable of the merciless servant, which crowns the Lord’s teaching on ecclesial communion, ends with these words: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (cf. Mt 18:23-35). It is there, in fact, “in the depths of the heart,” that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.
§ 2844 Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies (cf. Mt 5:43-44), transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God’s compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; DIM 14).
§ 2845 There is no limit or measure to this essentially Divine forgiveness (cf. Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4), whether one speaks of “sins” as in Luke (11:4), or “debts” as in Matthew (6:12). We are always debtors: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another” (Romans 13:8). The Communion of the Holy Trinity [the unity between each of the Divine Persons] is the source and criterion of truth in every relationship. It is lived out in prayer, above all in the Eucharist (cf. Mt 5:23-24; 1 Jn 3:19-24).
- “God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord [harmony], and a people made one in the Unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (DDO 23: PL 4, 535-536; cf. Mt 5:24).
Tomorrow – “And Lead Us Not into Temptation”
(Part IV, Section 2, Article 3 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
- “DDO” – St. Cyprian, “De Dominica Oratione [The Lord’s Prayer]”
- “DIM” – Pope St. John Paul II (Nov 1980), “Dives in Misericordia [Rich in Mercy]”
- “PL” – “Patrologia Latina [Latin Patrology]”, an enormous collection of writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers in the Latin language published by J. P. Migne, (Paris, 1841‑1855 A.D.)
A Sunday Blessing
May the Lord bless you and keep you!
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you!
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace! †cf. Numbers 6:24-26