Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 3, 2001
'Forgive us our trespasses'
By FR. JOHN SPICER
In our previous reflection on the Our Father we concentrated on the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread."
We now take up the next petition, "and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
To "trespass" means to cross the line. Used in the Our Father it means to cross the line of good moral behaviour. In other words it means to sin. We are thus asking our heavenly Father to forgive the sins we have committed.
We add, however, a proviso, "as we forgive those who trespass against us." Unless we forgive those who have done wrong to us it would be foolish indeed to ask God to forgive us.
There is overwhelming evidence for asking God's forgiveness of our sins. Remember, for instance, how Jesus forgave the penitent woman who washed his feet and dried them with her hair.
Think, also, how Jesus forgave the woman who had committed adultery and how kindly he treated the Samaritan woman who had had five husbands.
There is the notorious tax collector, Zacchaeus, with whom Jesus had a meal. And how can we ever forget the good thief on the cross to whom Jesus promised paradise that same day.
Added to the above examples remember how Peter once asked Jesus how often he should forgive a brother who had sinned against him. Seven times suggested magnanimous Peter. "Not seven times," Jesus answered, but "70 seven times!" (This number can also mean 70 x 7, that is 490 times).
Like the prodigal son we have all drifted across the line of good moral behaviour. We have all "trespassed" against God and neighbour.
But with the wealth of examples given above of God's great mercy, can we ever hesitate to come back home?
Knowing such tender loving mercy from God, how could we not wholeheartedly forgive those who have trespassed against us? Remember, too, that grudges do not become a Christian. We can't help feeling them but we ought not harbour them.
To conclude, we are well aware that science today is making immense headway in treating human ailments. But we ought never forget that God has been healing human trespasses down through the centuries and healing them in such a way that no scars remain.
Indeed, after God's forgiveness we are all the more healthy, and all the more in love with Our Father.
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