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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: Forgiveness
 

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  March 5, 2016 --

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us”. These words are second nature to most of us as we have repeated them so many times [although in some versions it is “trespasses” instead of “sins”]. And yet, as with so many things often repeated, we may say them without really thinking what they mean. One should especially note that it links God’s forgiveness to a promise that we will also forgive others. It is this second part that can trip us up. We should always be ready and willing to forgive others when they have wronged us as soon as they show repentance for what they have done. In the 17th Chapter of Luke, Jesus says “even if he sins against you seven times in a day and comes back to you seven times and says ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.”

Are we allowed to withhold forgiveness when we don’t hear an apology? Not necessarily. We should also forgive people when it becomes clear that their offence against us was not willful, but merely careless or unthinking. Jesus set the example for this when, hanging on the cross, he said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. And think also of young children, who many times just don’t “know better”. Certainly we should try to correct their wrong actions, but we must also forgive their many trespasses.

I’m not saying that any of us will ever approach perfection, either in forgiving others or in making sure that we do not do things that we should apologize for. We will continue to do wrong, and our brothers and sisters will also continue to do wrong, no matter how much we try to be better. Even Saint Paul says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (….) For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Knowing that we are all weak in this manner, and only human, it behooves us all to continually ask God to forgive our trespasses and to remember also to continually forgive our brothers and sisters for their offences against us.

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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