I recently heard a priest say that he wished Jesus didn’t act as if forgiveness was so easy in the Gospels because typically it’s difficult for many people to forgive when a person has wronged them—especially if that person is close to them.
Nonetheless, Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” It’s an illuminating passage when paired with the first reading from Daniel’s apocalyptic text. In the Daniel text, the author illustrates a keen understanding of both sin and judgment. The author writes:
5 We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and turned from your commandments and your laws…9 But to the Lord, our God, belong compassion and forgiveness, though we rebelled against him 10 and did not hear the voice of the Lord, our God, by walking in his laws given through his servants the prophets.
Daniel’s text demonstrates contrition for sinful actions and a willingness to throw one’s self at the mercy of God. However, what Jesus explains to each one of us is that God, who is compassionate and forgiving, forgives based on our own mercy that we show others. The Letter of St. James explains, “13 For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” In fact, this passage precedes the Letter of James’ explanation of justification through both faith and works
So, how do we forgive? How do we show mercy to others? One of the themes from St. Luke that permeates both in his gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles is the illustration that prayer is the key to forgiveness and mercy. Christ from the cross prayed for those who mocked Him and nailed Him to the cross. (Lk 23:34) St. Stephen, the Church’s first martyr, mirrors Christ’s prayer with His own prayer for those who were stoning him not to have their sin held against them. (Acts 7:60)
In my own experience, I’ve found in my prayer life that praying for those who have done me wrong causes me to not only forgive them but to love them.
If you have difficulty with forgiving others then turn to the Lord in prayer and throw yourself at the One to who compassion and mercy belong.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition. (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Lk 6:37.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition. (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Da 9:5; 9-10
 New American Bible, Revised Edition. (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Jas 2:13.
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