Tuesday, March 15, 2011

3/15/11 - Forgiveness: A Matter of Life and Death

Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Matthew 6 is the middle portion of the Sermon on The Mount.  Christ gives us the Lord's Prayer, and then He immediately repeats the petition on forgiveness. 

As the Catechism says, this is significant:  "This petition is so important that it is the only one to which the Lord returns and which he develops explicitly in the Sermon on the Mount. This crucial requirement of the covenant mystery is impossible for man. But "with God all things are possible."  (CCC 2841)

Truly forgiving others can be very, very difficult.  It is difficult enough when it's a minor issue.  Let alone when somebody does something truly terrible that impacts you.

Just think about that for a while.  Many, many, many people are such a slave to their own pride that they are willing to sacrifice a relationship because of it.  Many are willing to stop loving a person, stop caring for a person, or stop associating with a person because they feel they've been wronged.

Just think about how many times in your life have you seen a relationship broken because one person demanded that another apologize?   How many times have you demanded an apology from someone else?  How did that work out for you?

Why is forgiveness so important that Jesus establishes it as a CONDITION for us to be forgiven?  Here is the Church's answer:  "Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father's merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace."  (CCC 2840)

PS - If this sounds familiar, it is.  Here's a link to a message I sent out about six months ago.  It includes the full Catechism discussion of this point:

Link:  http://matt-lifeinthespirit.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html


  1. One way I work on forgiveness is to imagine myself on my deathbed. I don't want to go into eternity carrying earthly grudges. Things would not go well for me at my particular judgment if I have not been as generous as Christ in forgiving.

  2. Forgiveness is tough, but I've seen the lack of it cause "death" here on earth, death of happiness, death of relationship, death of openness....

  3. I expect much time is spent in Purgatory getting to the point of forgiving others.

  4. Forgiveness is difficult in two ways; 1 - forgving others as God forgives us and 2 - believing we need to be forgiven. #2 is the main reason people tell me they don;t go to confession, they have no need to be forgiven. Scares me.


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