Pages

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us"

My understanding of Christianity, my journey toward Jesus has been a long process, usually involving little steps. I'm not one of those individuals (so far) that suddenly has a great epiphany with a huge leap in understanding. Rather, things come in dribs and drabs. The phrase "and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" is one of those baby steps, which was actually quite profound.

The revelation came while I was attending a funeral. Apparently there were many internal family squabbles that had occurred over the years. Several of the siblings were, at best, distant from each other, if they had not actually made the decision not to speak to one another. The priest presiding over the funeral service found out about these "trespasses". During his sermon, he took the opportunity to address the problem in a God-fearing manner. He explained the meaning of these words.

Think about them. When you are praying to God, you are asking him to forgive you your sins. But, this is not a carte blanche forgiveness. You ask God to forgive you in the same manner and to the same extent that you forgive others for their sins against you! Whoa! So. The person that kept you from getting that promotion, or that raise, you know, the one you cursed and wished were dead? Is that how you want God to forgive you? Or, the friend that borrowed some money and never paid you back; the one you haven't spoken to for several years; the one you gossip about to others. Is that how you want God to forgive you? Or, that family member that always criticized you, mister (or ms.) know-it-all. The one you make fun of especially when they are not around. Is that how you want God to forgive you?

We all have had (and most likely have) people that hurt us in our lives. It's easy, almost natural (with the help of Satan of course) to carry grudges, to relive the events over and over, justifying our anger. But, that is clearly not the right thing to do. If we expect God to forgive us, we MUST forgive others. That can be very difficult. We must call on Jesus to increase the Holy Spirit in us, to give us the strength and grace to forgive these people from the heart. This is the only way that we can continue on our journey toward God, following in Jesus' footsteps, so that we can truly find Jesus.