The Holy Gospel, according to St. 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 others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
REFLECTION: It’s amazing how often our Lord appeals us to forgive. Much of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, continually calls us to offer mercy and forgiveness to others.
And at the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus offers us the consequences of not observing His appeals.
This passage is a kind of supplement to the “Our Father” prayer which is right before it.
The Our Father prayer gives us several petitions; one of them being “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
This added emphasis should warn us of the seriousness of this petition.
At first, Jesus simply tells us to pray for forgiveness “as we forgive.”
But then makes it clear that if we fail to do so, neither will our Father forgive us.
This should motivate us highly to make every effort possible to completely forgive others from the deepest depths of our hearts.
WHO DO YOU NEED TO FORGIVE?
Forgiveness can be a confusing attempt at times.
The act of forgiveness gets confusing when our feelings do not reflect the choice we make in our will.
There is a common experience of feeling anger, when making the interior choice to forgive another. We still feel anger toward them.
But this ugly feeling should not prevent us nor should we allow it to cause doubt in what we need to do.
Forgiveness IS FIRST an act of the will. It’s a prayerful choice to say to another that we do not hold their sin against them.
Forgiveness DOES NOT pretend that no sin was committed. No! On the contrary, if there was no sin committed, then there would be no need for forgiveness.
When we make the choice to forgive another, and if our feelings do not immediately follow, keep forgiving them in our heart. Pray for them. Try to change the way we think about them.
Do not dwell upon the hurt that they have imposed.
Think, instead, about their dignity as a person, the love God has for them and the love we must continue to foster for them. This action can be very difficult but not impossible if we ask God for help.
Forgive, forgive, and forgive again. Never stop and never tire of this ACT OF MERCY. If we do this, we may even discover that our feelings and passions eventually align with the choice we have made.
Are there any lingering feelings of ANGER you are experiencing?
ACTION FOR THE DAY: Reflect today, upon any lingering feelings of anger you experience. Address those feelings by the free and total choice to forgive the person with whom you are angry. Do it now, later today, tomorrow and on and on. Go on the offensive against anger and bitterness by overwhelming it with your personal act of forgiveness and you will find that God will begin to free you of the heavy burden that a lack of forgiveness imposes.