Ninth Day of Lent
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15
Some might say this admonition of Christ comes after the Lord’s Prayer, I believe it is instead the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer. Christ speaks to the justice of mercy that is within the “Justice Christianus”, there exists not only for me but for all. To ask for forgiveness is to enter into the process of forgiveness, a covenant that God’s mercy and providence is to be shared among us.
I like to refer to this passage and others like it as the principle of Christian karma. When we begin to judge others then we ourselves are judged; when we take upon ourselves the condemnation of others, we ourselves are condemn; but when we forgive others we ourselves are forgiven.
Justice in the teaching of Christ seeks to restore and rehabilitate, reconcile and recreate by way a mercy that restores all into just and peaceful community, not only me, but also them and the community as a whole. The justice and mercy I seek I am bound in the Christian covenant to offer the same justice and mercy to others. To fail to forgive or to refuse to forgive is extracting oneself from this covenant community of merciful justice.
Thus the first prayer is not “Lord forgive me”, but rather, “Lord, help me to forgive others.”
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz