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Forgive To Be Forgiven

Having been forgiven by God, we are called to forgive others who have hurt us. If we do not forgive, we close ourselves to God’s outpouring of His mercy upon us. It is as if we do not allow God to forgive us.

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 594  presents a good summary of all we can say about this petition: “By asking God the Father to pardon us, we acknowledge before him that we are sinners. At the same time, we proclaim his mercy because in his Son and through the sacraments ‘we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’ (Colossians 1:14). Still, our petition will be answered only if we for our part have forgiven first”.

In this respect, n. 395 states: “Mercy can penetrate our hearts only if we ourselves learn how to forgive–even our enemies. Now, even if it seems impossible for us to satisfy this requirement, the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit can, like Christ, love even to love’s extreme; it can turn injury into compassion and transform hurt into intercession. Forgiveness participates in the divine mercy and it is a high-point of Christian prayer”.

In 1 John 1: 8-9 we read: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

All this tells us that sin exists as man lowers himself to the awful meanness of evil and that redemption comes from God and only from God. To experience God’s merciful love, we must admit our guilt. This is not liberation as yet; it is the first step towards healing. As the movement goes on, we ask the merciful Father to forgive us and we go back to Him, following the example of the prodigal son.

Free Flow Of Love
God created his children out of love and He wanted to generate a current of love, flooding the whole world. Men and women are meant to give a response of love, but because of sin, the response is not there. This is terrible, but we can ask pardon from God Who does not want punishment. What He wants is a free flow of love given and received; in fact, He wants all people to be saved. The proof of this is Christ Jesus: 

“This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven” (1 John 4:10). And: “If anyone does sin, we have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf–Jesus Christ, the righteous one. And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone.” (1 John 2:1-2)

Here is the foundation of the petition we have in the ‘Our Father’; a petition which is sustained by the fact that the Father has given Himself to us forever in Christ Jesus as the God who is the Redeemer for all. This is why when we ask God for forgiveness, we ask this great gift not only for ourselves but also for all people throughout the world as everybody needs forgiveness.

The petition we have just commented on is followed by extremely important words: “As we forgive those who trespass against us”. This is a consequence of our having been forgiven by God. Several times Pope Francis has said: “Forgiven by God, we are called to forgive our brothers and sisters who do hurt us. If we do not forgive them, we close our hearts so that God cannot pour His mercy into them: it’s not that He refuses to forgive; it’s us who do not allow God to forgive us. Naturally, forgiveness is not something that we give easily with our own strength. Also, accepting our brothers and sisters who are not likable and attractive is not easy. We need the energy of the Spirit, and when in humility we ask for it, God is always happy to give it to us.”

Through the intercession of Mary, we ask that we may be strengthened to forgive others and proclaim that love is much stronger than any hurt and any offense. 

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