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  • pjgordonma

Don't take a breath.

This Sunday (July 24, 2022), we read from the Gospel of Luke. The disciples ask Jesus, "teach us to pray", and Jesus teaches them the "Our Father".

In it, we pray "forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us".

What is forgiveness?

From the perspective of justice, when someone hurts us, they should make us whole. We can forgive them by releasing them from that debt. It can be hard to forgive when the other person is unrepentant or doesn't offer to pay the debt.

But, what does forgiveness look like from the perspective of Mercy?

And, what can serving the vulnerable teach us about forgiveness?

We are merciful when we, out of love for others, bear their sufferings, whether through deed, word, or prayer. When we give our coat off our back to someone who is cold, we suffer the cold in their place.

When we sin, one way we suffer is by separating ourselves from God. That separation might seem like justice and punishment, but is a form of spiritual suffering. Just like entering into someone's physical suffering and bearing it, we can, with God's grace, enter into their spiritual suffering and bear it as an act of forgiveness. I think this is why St. Faustina prayed, "Lord, let the blows of your justice fall upon me, and engulf poor sinners in a sea of your Mercy".

Challenge for the week: Jesus told the disciples that the Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, to enable you to pray a prayer like St. Faustina's, for someone whom you need to forgive.

Here is an additional ongoing prayer challenge: When saying the Our Father, try saying the complete phrase "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us", without taking a breath or pausing before saying "as we forgive those".

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