Dear Family of Mary!
Today, Our Lady has put on my heart a topic which is central to our entire relationship with God and with our human family. It is forgiveness. Forgiveness is an act of love that must be played out every day of our lives. It is central to our relationship with God, because we are fallen, and sin constantly dogs us. We sin. And it is only by returning to the Lord and asking to be forgiven that we can be saved from sin. But likewise, in our relationships with one another we sin, and they sin, and without the power of forgiveness we all would be sundered from one another. Peace depends on our willingness to forgive and to ask forgiveness of God and our neighbor. As Our Lady told us:
September 2, 2010 “Dear children; I am beside you because I desire to help you to overcome trials, which this time of purification puts before you. My children, one of those is not to forgive, and not to ask for forgiveness. Every sin offends love and distances you from it and love is my Son. Therefore, my children, if you desire to walk with me towards the peace of God’s love, you must learn to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Thank you.”
2842 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 loved you, that you also love one another.” 139 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. 140 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us. 141
2843 Thus the Lord’s words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end, 142 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.” 143 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.
2844 Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies, 144 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 this 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. 145
2845 There is no limit or measure to this essentially divine forgiveness, 146 whether one speaks of “sins” as in Luke (11:4), “debts” as in Matthew (6:12). We are always debtors: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.” 147 The communion of the Holy Trinity is the source and criterion of truth in every relation ship. It is lived out in prayer, above all in the Eucharist. 148 God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 149
138 Mt 19:26.
139 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.
140 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.
141 Eph 4:32.
142 Cf. Jn 13:1.
143 Cf. Mt 18:23-35.
144 Cf. Mt 5:43-44.
145 Cf. 2 Cor 5:18-21; John Paul II, DM 14.
146 Cf. Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4.
147 Rom 13:8.
148 Cf. Mt 5:23-24; I Jn 3:19-24.
149 St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 23: PL 4, 535-536; cf. Mt 5:24.
English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.
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