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Catechism of the Catholic Church

. . . 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 Spirit by whom we live can make "ours" the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. 140 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves "forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave" us. 141

2843 Thus the Lord's words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end, 142 become a living reality. The parable of the merciless servant, which crowns the Lord's teaching on ecclesial communion, ends with these words: "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." 143 It is there, in fact, "in the depths of the heart," that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.

2844 Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies, 144 transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God's compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another. 145

2845 There is no limit or measure to this essentially divine forgiveness, 146 whether one speaks of "sins" as in Luke (11:4), "debts" as in Matthew (6:12). We are always debtors: "Owe no one anything, except to love one another." 147 The communion of the Holy Trinity is the source and criterion of truth in every relation ship. It is lived out in prayer, above all in the Eucharist. 148

God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 149

Notes:

139 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.

140 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.

141 Eph 4:32.

142 Cf. Jn 13:1.

143 Cf. Mt 18:23-35.

144 Cf. Mt 5:43-44.

145 Cf. 2 Cor 5:18-21; John Paul II, DM 14.

146 Cf. Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4.

147 Rom 13:8.

148 Cf. Mt 5:23-24; I Jn 3:19-24.

149 St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 23: PL 4, 535-536; cf. Mt 5:24.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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