“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
“Do I forgive someone who has sinned (trespassed) against me but who has not asked for my forgiveness?”
Some of us have probably struggled with this question, especially if we have been deeply hurt by someone and that person does not admit his wrongdoing.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son told by Jesus, the younger brother disgraced his father by asking for his share of the wealth while his father was still alive. He then left home and squandered the money on wild living.
Later with the money gone and having to settle for food fit only for pigs, he came to his senses and returned home, wanting only to be hired as a laborer by his father.
But while he was still far off his father ran to meet him. His father had been waiting for him. His father restored his status as son and gave him a homecoming party.
The elder brother was the dutiful son who did everything expected of him; he never did anything to displease his father. When he learned of the welcoming party for his prodigal brother, he became angry and accused his father of being unfair. He believed that being the obedient son it was he who deserved to be given a party.
The elder brother expected justice from his father. He could not accept that his father would forgive and welcome his undeserving brother. Yet he himself had insulted his father by refusing to join the celebration his father had organized. He himself was lost in his own resentment and self-righteousness; he also needed his father’s grace and forgiveness. (Read the whole parable in Luke 15: 11-32).
It will be difficult for us to forgive someone who has wronged us – regardless of whether s/he is repentant or not – if we think only of fairness and not mercy; of justice and not grace – like the elder brother. Yet we all have sinned; we can only beg for God’s forgiveness through our faith in Christ Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit will rule in our hearts; grudges can be replaced by grace. The forgiven can be forgivers.
This parable has also been called the Parable of the Waiting Father. The father ran to meet the prodigal son while he was still far off. “God demonstrated his own love for us in this: “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8).
Loving Father, thank you that for the sake of Christ You forgive our trespasses. Give us the grace and humility to forgive those who trespass against us. Amen.
Emmanuel N. ILAGAN