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

In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 6:7-15) Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount by teaching His hearers how to pray; He gives us the Our Father emphasizing its petition about forgiveness by repeating it more forcefully at the end of this passage.

I would argue that it is difficult to find a more challenging passage than the one highlighted here.  The Lord’s Prayer is the most popular Christian prayer (as it should be coming from Jesus Himself) but this fact makes it so familiar that the pray-er can easily breeze through it with little thought about the seven petitions in this passage.  I am always glad to receive the reminder in this Gospel reading.

It can be very difficult to forgive, especially when a person is hurt in a deep and profound way.  But we must, whether we feel like it or not or whether the offender asks for it or not.  When our judgement day comes, do we want to face our Lord, a perfectly innocent man who could forgive with His dying words, with obstinate refusal to forgive?  We can expect not to be forgiven ourselves if we keep this attitude until our dying breath.

Let us throw off and keep off all hatred and grudges.  They only harm us — not the person these sentiments are directed toward.  Christ’s command is thus good not only for our eternal destiny but also for our well-being here on earth.

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