2 Corinthians 11:1-11
I know a group of people who would thank Jesus for the prayer that he taught the disciples: the "Our Father." Those are the men and women who are involved in the 12 Step programs. They always end their meetings by saying the Lord’s Prayer. But it’s a prayer we all stand in need of.
One of the requests that is made to the Father is "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Two of the 12 Steps bring the individual face to face with the need for forgiveness. The fourth step asks for forgiveness of the resentments they have against those who have hurt them in any way. And the fifth step asks for forgiveness for the ways that they, themselves, have hurt others.
I believe that anyone who prays the Lord’s Prayer knows that no one can omit those two petitions: "I have been hurt by others, forgive them; and I, myself, have hurt others, forgive me."
I find that compassion is a great aid in these two instances. A person who is in touch with the ways he/she has hurt others along with an honest sense of why they did so, will begin to understand why others have acted in their own way. This doesn’t erase the hurt or wrong that was done. But a compassionate person begins to realize that anger, jealousy, low self esteem, rejection, stress, greed for power over others, addictions of all sorts or many other reasons can drive a person to do the things they do.
An honesty can be gained by looking at and understanding why others have hurt us. Things can get out of control in everyone’s life. That makes so much sense to bring our sincere request to the Father: "Forgive those who trespass against us." Remembering why others have done the things that have hurt us can slow us down in our resentments
because compassion now helps us to look into the mind and heart of others.
Dealing with resentments caused by the hurts we have suffered, now brings us to another important moment in our lives: I need forgiveness because I have hurt others. This can be a tough order. Finally admitting to the hurts that we have inflicted on others can
be very humbling. I have seen people break down and cry as they honestly admit that they have hurt others so unjustly, so selfishly, so blindly, so cruelly, so coldly and in many other ways.
And so, the Lord’s Prayer for all of us becomes very genuine and true, especially as we say with compassion and love: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.