From Loyola Press, a Jesuit Ministry

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us recognize those times when we have not been as forgiving as God calls us to be.


“And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Matthew 6:12


A priest once told this story about his family. Two of his uncles were farmers in the community where he had grown up. At some point, the two uncles had a severe disagreement, and they refused to speak to each other. But, as it turned out, each uncle farmed land that was behind the home of the other. So each day they planted or harvested, they had to drive their tractors past one another. For 20 years, as they went to work in the morning and returned in the evening, they did not speak a single word to one another.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear in its interpretation of Matthew 6:12. God’s “…outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us.” (CCC 2840). No one of us can love the God we cannot see if we refuse to love the sister or brother we do see (1 John 4:20). Refusing to forgive leads inevitably to closing ourselves out of God’s merciful love.

This season of Lent is again an opportune time to let the love of God break through any shell of our unforgiving nature. The disciplines of Lent help us to recognize the blindness in ourselves as we look out at the world and see people we dismiss, hate, or despise, either as individuals or as perceived enemies. It is an especially important time to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we confess our sins, God opens our hearts to God’s grace.

Lenten Action

► Read Forgiveness, Transformation, and Mercy by Becky Eldredge.

► Read Ten Things Forgiveness Is Not by Marina McCoy.


Lord Jesus, may I forgive others so that I can be a sign of your holiness and presence in the world.

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