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Pope Francis suggests this forgiveness exercise

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 09/17/23

We cannot repay God, the Pope said, but we can imitate him by forgiving our brothers and sisters.

Jesus has a clear message for us in Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis said before praying the midday Angelus this September 17: “God forgives incalculably, exceeding all measure. This is how he is; He acts out of love, and gratuitously. God is not bought, God is free, he is all gratuitousness.”

We cannot repay God, the Pope continued, but we can imitate him by forgiving our brothers and sisters. Although, the Pope acknowledged, Jesus’ parable shows that it isn’t easy: The servant who had been forgiven his huge debt by the king was asked to in turn forgive a “substantial sum — equivalent to about three months’ wages — as if to say that forgiving each other costs money!”

Even if it’s hard, forgiving is not a good deed that we can “choose to do or not do,” the Pope said. “Forgiving is a fundamental condition for those who are Christians.”

Every one of us, in fact, is “forgiven”: Let us not forget this, we are forgiven, God gave his life for us and in no way can we recompense his mercy, which he never withdraws from his heart. However, by corresponding to his gratuitousness, that is, by forgiving one another, we can bear witness to him, sowing new life around us.

The Pope warned that without forgiveness “there is no hope.”

Outside of forgiveness there is no peace. Forgiveness is the oxygen that purifies the air of hatred, forgiveness is the antidote to the poisons of resentment, it is the way to defuse anger and heal so many maladies of the heart that contaminate society.

Questions and a task

The Holy Father then recommended a series of questions to ask ourselves:

Do I believe I have received from God the gift of immense forgiveness?
Do I feel the joy of knowing that He is always ready to forgive me when I fall, even when others do not, even when I am not even able to forgive myself?
He forgives: Do I believe that he forgives?
And then: Can I in turn forgive those who wrong me?

The Pope invited the faithful:

I would like to propose a little exercise to you: let us try, now, each one of us, to think of a person who has hurt us, and ask the Lord for the strength to forgive them. And let us forgive them out of love for the Lord: brothers and sisters, this will do us good; it will restore peace to our hearts.

May Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us to receive the grace of God and to forgive each other.

Pope Francis
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