Fr. C. C. Martindale, HOW easily we say the Our Father! Yet is it easy to say the next words sincerely? In St. Matthew (6:1) we read; "Forgive us our debts, as we too forgive those who are in debt to US."
St. Luke (II:3) begins by making the meaning quite clear fit is not only money-debts that are meant): " Forgive us our sins." But he goes on remoraelessly: " Yes. for we ourselves forgive every man in debt to us." Clearly, he could not write " those who sin against us," for sin can be committed only against God. But he asserts that we do thus forgive those who are " in debt " to us, even if it is only " owing us an apology," as they say. Now this idea of " forgiveness" does not occur here only. It becomes a "theme-idea " in the Gospel. The next verses in St. Matthew underline it. And after the story of the unforgiving debtor (Mt. 18:35) and his terrible punishment, Our Lord says: "So will my heavenly Father. too, do to you, if you ;Jo not each of you, forgive his brother from your hearts." St. Mark, who does not report the Pater, has exactly the same doctrine in c. I 1:25, 26.
Are we not faced with an impossibility? We may be able, when injured, to set our teeth, refrain from eetaliation, and even to behave with exterior civility to the person who has harmed us. But — "from our hearts?" Can we honestly say that we always forgive like ihat? We probably can't control our feelings. But they are, after all, the most superficial part of our complex self--the froth.
An excellent plan of doing our part in " changing one's heart" is to do something really friendly for the person one can't forgive. and to do it nicely ibecause one can do kindly things in a most exasperat ing way). It is astonishing how such a friendly act can change oneself. And of course if one does it genuinely to please our 'Lord, Grace simply rushes in, and only Grace can make the innermost cha nges