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Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

A training ground for the mutual giving and forgiving

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There are verbs and actions for which man experiences greater difficulties in fulfilling them:  to forgive an offense,  to remit  a debt,  to love enemies

The image of the second petition in the Prayer of the Our Father is very beautiful. Jesus, through it gives us a strong teaching: forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Legally, to remit debts is the act by which the creditor voluntarily renounces his own credit, with the extinction of the obligation and the debtor's release.

Regarding this petition, in his book on the Our Father, Pope Francis explains to his interlocutor Father Marco Pozza, that indeed it’s very difficult to forgive. He reports, as an example, the image of the bankers who certainly like this petition, but up to a certain point, because money comes into play here. We learn from the Gospels that we cannot serve God and mammon (cf. Mt 6:24; Lk 6:13).

There is only one essential condition without which no one can ever forgive, - Pope Francis highlights-, that is, having been forgiven. Only those who recognize that they have been forgiven are able to forgive. Those who live this experience will be able to enjoy an experience so much more beautiful: that of being able to forgive the other. Therefore, we should recognize ourselves in need of forgiveness, like everyone else, and we should not consider ourselves "righteous", like the doctors of the Law who made war on Jesus and did not understand why He forgave sinners, why He mixed with them.

Pope Francis declares himself, first, as a sinner who has received forgiveness. He remembers and tells when he felt that the Lord had forgiven him. Then he gave vent to his tears, because after feeling forgiven, freed from a burden and re-embraced by the Father, you  cannot not cry, " Lord, I ask you to forgive me, give us the grace to cry" (Pope Francis Lampedusa, 08 July 2013).

And that moment, guarded with jealousy, becomes for every new Christian, the starting point for giving oneself to others, recognizing that he was far from God, now feeling all the shame of having chased God from his own life.

This shame and bitter disturbance are well described in the account of the Passion of Jesus. There are three episodes that describe the shame experienced by three different people, very close to Jesus: Peter, who feels great shame and weeps bitterly (see Lk 22, 54-62); the good thief who with his shame, as St. Augustine says, stole Paradise (Lk 23: 39-43); finally Judas puts an end to his life, because he is suffocated by shame, he does not see the way out, he is abandoned by priests, the "righteous", to whom he confesses his sin.

The image of Judas is the most moving, Judas is a difficult character to understand, with many interpretations, but his story may not end there, the Pope says. He in fact mentions the example of the capital of the basilica of Santa Maria Maddalena in Vèzelay, a sculpture of the Middle Ages through which the men of the time made catechesis. The capital portrays the traitor apostle carried by Jesus, the Good Shepherd on His shoulders .

So, Forgiveness, tears, shame that do not lead to despair, are graces that put us back on the road showed by Jesus. And - the Pope highlights in the general audience of November 04, 2015 -– that  the family is a great training ground for the mutual giving and forgiving, every day, because only in this way love grows,  lasts, and endures.

Jesus, in the prayer of the Our Father, leaves us with this task which is difficult but at the same time it is the most "audacious", as it brings us closer to the likeness with the Father who is in Heaven. God, the Just, always forgive! And we, despite our faults, must learn to forgive and forgive each other; we should overcome selfishness, heal wounds and re-weave the threads that we break in the family and outside the family. Without long speeches, we should exercise ourselves to forgive each other, without waiting a long time, we should end the day in peace, even a caress is enough.

Forgiving others' defects means obtaining God's forgiveness (see Mt 6,14-15), but it is also true that the ability to forgive others is possible because we have been forgiven by God first. Therefore, let us exercise in the family to arrive prepared to face a world that is ever more distant from these teachings, and to improve our ability to love, to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect (see Mt 5: 43-48).

In her Diary, in a passage from 1923, Luisa writes that Jesus explains to her that He asked the Father in the Prayer of the Our Father to "‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors ". So, charity also will be perfect. Forgiveness will have the mark of heroism as He had it on the Cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34).

The heroic charity manifested by Jesus on the Cross is the most incisive example for our life ... Jesus excuses His executioners before the Father,  He prays for them. He pays the debt of all and for all. He repairs all the sins of men with His wounds. He obtains Mercy for all, at the price of His Blood, so that we may obtain graces of salvation for ourselves and for all.


My Jesus, from your wounds and from your Blood, I want to draw strength in order to repeat

your own life in Me. In this way, I will be able to plead for all, the good which You Yourself did.

(from "The 24 Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ)



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