Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday 11 September 2011

As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

    This "as" is not unique in Jesus' teaching:  "You, therefore, must
be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"; "Be merciful, even as
your Father is merciful"; "A new commandment I give to you, that you
love one another, even as I have love you, that you also love one
another".    It is impossible to keep the Lord's commandment
by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital
participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and
the mercy and the love of our God.  Only the Spirit by whom we live
can make "ours" the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.  Then the
unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves "forgiving
one another, as God in Christ forgave" us.

    Thus the Lord's words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the
end, become a living reality.  The parable of the merciless servant,
which crowns the Lord's teaching on ecclesial communion, ends with
these words:  "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you,
if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."  It is there, in
fact, "in the depths of the heart," that everything is bound and loosed. 
It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that
offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the
memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.

    Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies, transfiguring
the disciple by configuring him to his Master.  Forgiveness is a
high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God's compassion can
receive the gift of prayer.  Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world,
love is stronger than sin.  The martyrs of yesterday and today bear witness
to Jesus.  Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation
of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another.

                        -- Catechism of the Catholic Church
                            paragraphs 2842-2844

The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
                                    --     Psalm 103

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