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

Dropping into the middle of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 6:7-15), we find Jesus teaching His disciples about prayer.  They are not to pray as pagans with babbling or a multiplicity of words.  Rather, they are to approach God as Father — who knows what they need before they ask — through what we call the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer.  The line in that prayer that is found above is then expounded upon after the prayer.  This radical forgiveness that Christ demands that we show to others is arguably the most difficult teaching He gives to the world.  How difficult it is to forgive and forget even the smallest slight (real or perceived), much less a terrible injustice perpetrated on us.   Yet Jesus, far more innocent (perfectly so) than all of us, took on all sins of all time to give us the possibility of salvation (cf. 2 Cor 5:21).  He did not become man to seek revenge, but to forgive (cf. Rom 5:8).  Even during His Passion leading to His death, when Jesus heard far more jeers and insults than consoling words, and endured all sorts of indignities and injuries, He looked on His persecutors with love and forgiveness (Lk 23:34).  It is because of the Lord’s steadfastness in following the Father’s will, even unto death, that we have the opportunity to enter heaven.  How can we not imitate Jesus in the ocean of mercy He has, by giving comparative drops of mercy to those who do evil to us?  This doesn’t make it easy, especially for the most egregious crimes against us.  Nevertheless, it is a requirement — even if our feelings have not yet met up with this conviction.  Let us pray that we become rock solid in this conviction, and that our disposition develops to be perfectly aligned with it.  Let us meditate often on the Passion and death of our Lord, especially during this holy season of Lent.

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