Forgive Us Our Trespasses, as We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

‘What we need,’ says St. Francis de Sales, ‘is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love and an ocean of patience.’

Scarsellino, “Christ and St. Peter at the Sea of Galilee,” ca. 1585-1590
Scarsellino, “Christ and St. Peter at the Sea of Galilee,” ca. 1585-1590 (photo: Public Domain)

When you learn other languages, you come to a better understanding of your own. It opens your eyes and mind allowing you to see things from a different perspective.

When I learned that the Italian word for luggage is impedimenta, it gave me pause. The etymology of the word is clear. We carry useless encumbrances with us throughout our lives — some from jealousy and envy, and others from refusing to forgive those who have wronged us.

To find happiness in this life and the next, we must forgive our enemies. There is nothing that can destroy personal and societal happiness quicker and more thoroughly than selfishness and anger.

We must forgive. There is no other choice available to us, for we will be judged as we judge others. If we can’t forgive, how can we hope Christ will forgive us? He specifically pointed this out to us in the challenging Parable of the Ungrateful Servant (Matthew 18:25-35):

Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

There’s no obscure interpretation necessary to understand this parable. Christ is painfully clear: we must forgive or we will not be forgiven. Anger and revenge is contrary to love and can never be justified. Our anger is our impedimenta — the unnecessary baggage with which we saddle ourselves that slows our progress and is ultimately worthless and dangerous. Once we give into anger, we can rationalize any and all anger to anyone, and this is neither rational, sane, logical, loving or Christian.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testifies Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

FBI Investigation of Catholics, and Advent Reflections From a Former Muslim (Dec. 9)

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