Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

An Astonishing Requirement: Forgiveness

From the Catholicity Website:

Forgiving and Being Forgiven (2838)

This petition is not listed with the first three because of an astonishing requirement. Our sins won't be forgiven unless we forgive others. Our petition seeks a future good (our forgiveness). However, the word "as" shows that our own forgiving must happen now.

"And Forgive Us Our Trespasses..." (2839)

When we begged that God's name be holy, we also asked that we be made holy. Although clothed in baptismal grace, we do not cease to sin. In this new petition, we are as the prodigal son and the tax collectors. We begin with this confession because in Christ "we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Col 1:14). In the sacraments, we have the efficacious sign that we received this forgiveness.

Forgiving Hearts (2840-2841)

Christ's mercy cannot penetrate our hearts if we have not forgiven those who sinned against us. Love is indivisible. We cannot love God (whom we cannot see) and not love others (whom we do see). By refusing to forgive others, our hearts become hardened to God's mercy. However, confessing our sins opens us to God's grace.

Jesus says explicitly "If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions" (Mt 6:14-15).

Jesus' Use of "As" (2842)

Jesus frequently used the word "as." He told us to "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48), to love "as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34), and to be merciful "as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). To act as Jesus, the believer must vitally participate in the life and love of God. We must have the mind of Christ "forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us" (Eph 4:32).

Jesus' Parable (2843)

The Lord ended his parable of the merciless servant by saying, "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart" (Mt 18:35). Sins are bound and loosed only "in the depths of our heart," where the Holy Spirit can turn injury into compassion and hurt into intercession.

To Enemies (2844)

This forgiveness must extend to enemies. Only hearts attuned to God's compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness proclaims to the world that love is stronger than sin. Only by love can men be reconciled with God and with one another.

To Everything (2845)

Divine forgiveness has no limits in forgiving "sins" (Lk 11:4) or "debts" (Mt 6:12). We are all debtors owing to no one, "except to love one another" (Rom 13:8). "God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of division, but commands that he depart from the altar so he may first be reconciled with his brother" (St. Cyprian).


Anonymous Nancy said...

Man, easier said than done, isn't it?

Something I always have to work on, and I'm certainly not alone.

May 27, 2007 12:19 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

We are told to forgive from our heart (cf. Matthew 18:35), not just from our lips. The Lord was all too familiar with those who praised him with their lips, but whose hearts were far from him (cf. Matthew 15:8, Isaiah 29:13). No wonder we need the love and mercy of God to know how to show such unbounded love and mercy to others!

May 27, 2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks Nancy and Jeff:
I am amazed at how often in my life I have not forgiven . Jesus sees it as necessary for our ultimate salvation, yet I have not taken these scriptures as seriously as they need to be.
God have mercy!

May 27, 2007 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is possible to misconstrue this [forgiving others] as a precondition. It is not. Repentance is the requirement for forgiveness of concious sin. When we forgive others, it opens the way for God's grace to heal our woundedness, both as individuals and as a community. However, God acts first and autonomously; "even while we were still sinners" Christ suffered and died for us. Remember the last time you went to Confession: did the priest query you about forgiving others, before he pronounced the Absolution?

May 29, 2007 3:11 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"It is possible to misconstrue this [forgiving others] as a precondition."
How then should we construe this verse: "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart" (Mt 18:35). ?

May 29, 2007 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over a dozen years ago a person maliciously, unjustly and intentionally did me a great harm. I have not forgiven the offense. I have never even gone so far as to sincerly ask God for the grace to forgive. I suspect that deep down I want the offender to suffer judgement: "thumbs down" like a defeated combatant in the Collusium.

Please pray for me, a sinner who feels too weak to repent.

May 29, 2007 3:11 PM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

Dear anonymous...
Forgiving a person does not let them off the hook from judgement, it just puts the judgement job back into God's hands. And forgiveness is not for the benefit of the offender, it's really for the benefit of the injured party. This is because by forgiving, it is like opening a window and letting out all the wasted space occupied by hurt and anger, leaving an even greater space in yourself for grace to fill. I hope this helps.

May 29, 2007 8:59 PM  

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