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682

Part Four

And forgive us our trespasses . . .

2839

With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In

begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him

that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though

we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin,

to turn away fromGod. Now, in this new petition, we return to him

like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are

sinners before him.

133

Our petition begins with a “confession” of

our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in

his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

134

We find

the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacra­

ments of his Church.

135

2840

Now—and this is daunting—this outpouring of mercy

cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those

who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is

indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love

the brother or sister we do see.

136

In refusing to forgive our brothers

and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them

impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins,

our hearts are opened to his grace.

2841

This petition is so important that it is the only one to which

the Lord returns and which he develops explicitly in the Sermon on

the Mount.

137

This crucial requirement of the covenant mystery is

impossible for man. But “with God all things are possible.”

138

. . . as we forgive those who trespass against us

2842

This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore,

must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful,

even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to

you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you

also love one another.”

139

It is impossible to keep the Lord’s

commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there

has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart,

in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the

133 Cf.

Lk

15:11-32; 18:13.

134

Col

1:14;

Eph

1:7.

135 Cf.

Mt

26:28;

Jn

20:23.

136 Cf.

1 Jn

4:20.

137 Cf.

Mt

6:14-15; 5:23-24;

Mk

11:25.

138

Mt

19:26.

139

Mt

5:48;

Lk

6:36;

Jn

13:34.

1425

1439

1422

1864

521