For many weeks now, I have intended to provide you with an update about our summer seminarian, Jay Livecchi. Jay returned safely to Rome at the end of August. He has had a few conferences and seminars—including one on giving homilies—throughout September, and now classes should be starting up soon for him. He's had some time to visit a few museums and sites throughout Europe. He mentioned that he prays for all of you daily, he sends all of you his regards. Some have mentioned wanting to send him a letter. When you send him anything, he says make sure you use US Post and do not write Italy anywhere on the address. You can mail him at this address:
Pontifical North American College
00120 Vatican City State
Now looking at the Lord's Prayer, we approach the most dangerous petition: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” On one level, this doesn't seem dangerous at all: we are begging our Father to forgive us of our faults, our failings, our sins. What makes this petition so dangerous is that small, two-letter word that changes everything: as. We ask God to forgive us in the same manner, with the same measure, to the same degree that we forgive others. This should cause us to stop, reflect, and even tremble. How freely, quickly, and generously do I forgive?
Pope Francis said, “It is not God who tires of forgiving us, but we who grow tired of asking Him for forgiveness. It's not as though God wants to hold back His mercy and refrain from forgiving—far from it! What this petition reveals is that in order to receive God's forgiveness, we must allow it to flow through us to others. The only way to receive God's mercy is to share His mercy with others. If we refuse to forgive others, if we will not show mercy to others, we close ourselves off to the forgiveness and mercy of God the Father.
Without a doubt, forgiving others is one of the hardest actions for us, and it is often misunderstood. At its core, forgiveness is letting go of the anger, resentment, and bitterness that we feel and direct toward those who have hurt us. It is not pretending that nothing happened; it does not mean that you have to be best friends with that person. It is a process of letting go. We often rightly and justly experience anger, resentment, and bitterness when others have harmed us, but when we hold on to those emotions, we end up like a snake coiling around and squeezing a saw in vengeance: we are cut into pieces and harm ourselves.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was a completely innocent and just man, convicted on bogus charges and put to death on a cross. Aside from the kangaroo court, false accusations, unjust conviction, He mocked, beaten, given a crown of thorns, put to death. On top of that, Jesus' closest friends betrayed Him, denied Him, and fled in His time of greatest need. Whatever kind of hurt you have experienced, so has Jesus, and nevertheless, He cries out on the cross, “Father, forgive them.” If we struggle to forgive, turn to Jesus; ask Him to help you forgive—He will give you the grace you need to forgive and let go. It's a powerful experience and a burden lifted.
We are all saints under construction, growing in holiness by receiving the forgiveness of God and forgiving others. Have a great week!