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The fifth request

We say the Lord’s Prayer several times every day. Probably we have considered its content many times by listening, reading or meditating on what the Lord Jesus left us in it and to what he invites his disciples to. For some time, however, I have been paying special attention to the fifth request, which is conditional and touches the essence of Christianity: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

The theme of forgiveness is closely related to mercy. Forgiveness is one way we show mercy. One of the more demanding ways I would say … I trust everyone has experienced his healing power in their lives. Forgiveness received from loved ones teaches us to show mercy to other people, and also to ourselves, from childhood. People who are unable to show mercy to themselves usually have difficulties showing mercy to others, which makes it difficult to build social and community relations. Forgiveness serves our human and Christian development. He conforms us to Christ who invited his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5: 43-48). Jesus himself gave  an example when he died on the cross for us, while we were still sinners (Rom 5: 8) and prayed in agony. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Lk 23: 34a). Most often we experience forgiving love from God in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. A well-lived confession allows us to mend our relationships with those who have been at fault towards us or who have suffered because of us … Forgiveness requires rising above personal resentment, regret or such a natural but very primal desire to retaliate, which in fact does not help but drives the mechanism of evil. In the parable of the unmerciful debtor, the Lord Jesus invites us to forgive from the heart (cf. Mt 18:35), and not only superficially. In the Bible, the heart is the seat of feelings and will, it is the center of humanity. Forgiveness requires faith and trust in God, although it does not mean giving up your sense of justice and the expectation of restitution. During the trial before Annas, Jesus, struck by the servant of the high priest, asks him the question: If I said wrong, prove what was wrong. If that’s right, why do you beat me? (Jn 18:23). With these words, Jesus touches the conscience, stimulates the reflection of a man seeking human favors. It teaches us to care for the souls of those who have hurt us. This concern involves prayer, if possible, conversation, and, if necessary, help from the culprit.

Personally, I have found many times that forgiveness builds community. It belongs to its fundamental principles. When shown in a natural way, it helps to overcome difficulties that are not lacking in everyday life. Forgiveness is always possible. It leads to inner freedom even in difficult circumstances and helps to a fuller union with Jesus. Forgiveness received from the community brings us closer to each other and opens us to a variety of thinking, reacting and perceiving reality. Finally, forgiveness is combined with the gentleness which Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness in the modern world Gaudete et exultate, describes as the style of Jesus (cf. no. 71).

S.M. Michaela Musiał

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