“If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

The account for today has Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray, thus giving to them, and the faithful of all ages, the Our Father (Mt 6:7-15).  Before He gives the actual prayer, He warns the disciples not to babble like the pagans — the Father already knows the needs of His children.  Then comes the well known prayer with its seven petitions.  Lastly, Jesus reiterates the need to forgive, because if one does not, the consequences are terrible (see the headline).  Isn’t it interesting that the one petition Jesus feels compelled to repeat and further emphasize has to do with the necessity of forgiveness.  It is understandable that He does so because He “[does] not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself underst[ands] it well” (Jn 2:25).  Jesus knows how difficult it is for us to let pass the smallest of slights, much less a grievous offense against ourselves or a loved one.  Yet, Jesus had to be constantly in “forgiveness mode” considering the attacks on Him during His ministry culminating in His torture and death.  In this last circumstance, experiencing a physical pain few have ever endured, and a spiritual pain we cannot comprehend, He was able to, with His last breaths, say: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  We must strive to embrace and make our own this attitude of the innocent Lamb.  As we sincerely pray and work toward this ideal we will likely still have challenges in circumstances where forgiveness is required.  Nevertheless, we must keep foremost in our hearts the desire to conform to the will of God and always remember that what we do in this life determines our place in the next.  Additionally, this expression of radical forgiveness and love has amazing power to change the hardest of hearts.  There may be no more powerful tool of evangelization.

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