“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”

Moving to much earlier in Matthew (6:7-15), we drop into the middle of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Here, Jesus, in teaching His disciples how to pray, gives us the Our Father.  A well-known and oft-recited prayer.  One thing we usually don’t hear is the follow-up in which Jesus reiterates the most difficult part of the prayer (see above).  Consider how often we fly by that part without a second thought.  This reading makes us stop and think about the implications.  Why does Jesus hammer this point home?  Because He knows us better than we know ourselves.  Can we really forgive in imitation of Christ?  Can we, like Him, cry out on our crosses: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34)?  How difficult this is when someone hurts us physically, or worse, emotionally.  More awful yet is when the one who is injured is a close loved one.  Forgiveness may not come easy, but does it come at all?  Do we reserve unforgiveness or a certain grudge because the circumstances of the offense are just too horrible?  Certainly, Jesus is giving us a hard saying, but there are no caveats.  Jesus, the perfect Man, was tortured and killed unjustly by the guilty.  We, less than perfect, must emulate His love to those who despised and killed Him, no matter how difficult.  God’s grace is sufficient for this when our will fails (cf. 2 Cor 12:9).  Pray hard.

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