St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 10 April 2019
Catechesis on the "Our Father": 12. Forgive us our debts
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning! The day is not so beautiful, but good morning anyway!
After asking God for the bread of every day, the prayer of the "Our Father" enters the field of our relationships with others. And Jesus teaches us to ask the Father: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Mt 6,12). How we need bread, so we need forgiveness. And this, every day.
The Christian who prays asks God first of all for his debts, that is, his sins, the bad things he does. This is the first truth of every prayer: we were also perfect people, we were also crystalline saints who never deflected from a life of good, we always remain children who owe everything to the Father. Which is the most dangerous attitude of every Christian life? It is pride. It is the attitude of those who stand before God thinking they always have the accounts in order with Him: the proud believe that he has everything in his place. Like that Pharisee in the parable, who in the temple thinks he is praying but actually praises himself before God: "I thank you, Lord, because I am not like the others". And the people who feel perfect, the people who criticize others, are proud people. None of us is perfect, nobody. On the contrary, the tax collector, who was behind, in the temple, a sinner despised by all, stops on the threshold of the temple, and does not feel worthy to enter, and entrusts himself to the mercy of God. And Jesus comments: "These, unlike of the other, he returned home justified "(Lk 18:14), that is forgiven, saved. Why? Because he was not proud, because he recognized his limitations and his sins.
There are sins that are seen and sins that are not seen. There are glaring sins that make noise, but there are also devious sins, which lurk in the heart without us even realizing it. The worst of these is the arrogance that can infect even people who live an intense religious life. Once upon a time there was a convent of nuns, in the year 1600-1700, famous, at the time of Jansenism: they were perfect and it was said of them that they were as pure as the angels, but superb as the demons. It's a bad thing. Sin divides fraternity, sin makes us presume to be better than others, sin makes us believe that we are similar to God.
And instead of God we are all sinners and we have reason to beat our breasts - everyone! - like that publican at the temple. St. John, in his first Letter, writes: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn 1: 8). If you want to deceive yourself, say that you have not sinned: so you are deceiving yourself.
We are indebted above all because in this life we have received so much: existence, a father and a mother, friendship, the wonders of creation ... Even if we all go through difficult days, we must always remember that life is a life grace, it is the miracle that God has extracted from nothing.
Secondly we are indebted because, even if we succeed in loving, none of us is able to do it with his own strength. True love is when we can love, but with the grace of God. None of us shines with its own light. There is what the ancient theologians called a "mysterium lunae" not only in the identity of the Church, but also in the history of each of us. What does this "mysterium lunae" mean? Which is like the moon, which has no light of its own: it reflects the light of the sun. We too have no light of our own: the light we have is a reflection of the grace of God, of the light of God. If you love it is because someone, outside you, smiled at you when you were a child, teaching you to respond with a smile. If you love it is because someone next to you has awakened you to love, making you understand how in it resides the sense of existence.
Let's try to listen to the story of some person who made a mistake: a prisoner, a convict, a drug addict ... we know so many people who make mistakes in life. Without prejudice to the responsibility, which is always personal, you sometimes ask yourself who should be blamed for his mistakes, if only his conscience, or the story of hatred and abandonment that someone carries with him.
And this is the mystery of the moon: first of all we love because we have been loved, we forgive because we have been forgiven. And if someone has not been illuminated by sunlight, it becomes as cold as the winter terrain.
How can we fail to recognize, in the chain of love that precedes us, also the provident presence of God's love? None of us loves God as He loved us. Just stand before a crucifix to grasp the disproportion: He loved us and always loves us first.
Let us pray therefore: Lord, even the holiest among us does not cease to be your debtor. O Father, have pity on us all!