This is no ordinary petition to God asking for His mercy. We
not only ask Him to be merciful to us, but we dare place a condition and a norm
on Gods forgiveness. What is this condition and norm? It is the practice and
the measure of our forgiveness to others.
What are we being told? We are being told that unless we are
merciful to others, God will not be merciful to us. We further believe that the
measure of our forbearance with the sins of others mysteriously determines the
degree of Gods patient forgiveness of us.
Every form of mercy that we so deeply desire from God toward
ourselves, we pray that we might receive from Him. But the condition remains.
God will infallibly be tolerant and patient, indulgent and lenient, tender and
compassionate, pardoning and forgiving toward us sinners if we practice these
qualities of mercy toward those whom Gods Providence puts into our lives.
St. Matthew speaks of debts and debtors, St. Luke of
sins and being indebted. But the meaning in each case is clear. By
offending God in sin, we incur a debt of love and punishment for our misdeeds.
We owe God greater love than we would have had we not sinned, and we owe Him a
debt of suffering as punishment for offending the Divine Majesty.
In His mercy, God provides us with countless opportunities
for expiation by allowing others to sin against us. Our patience in enduring
their offenses, our kindness in bearing their coldness, our responding with
love for them in return for their lovelessness toward us is part of Gods
providential plan of redeeming a sinful world.
We pray for the strength to forgive so that we might be
forgiven in return.
There is also a marvelous communication of grace at stake
here. Not infrequently, the very reason God places difficult people into our
lives is that by our loving patience with them, we might obtain from God the
graces of conversion they need. We are channels
of grace to others. This means that to be an effective channel for some people,
I may have to be the victim of their indifference, or even cruelty, to win for
them the gift of repentance to be reconciled with an offended God.
Copyright © 2002 Inter Mirifica
Pocket Catholic Catechism