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Fasting, Mercy and Forgiveness

“When you stand to pray,
forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance,
so that your heavenly Father may in turn
forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:26 

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Have you heard people say these statements or have you said them yourself?

“I cannot forgive the man who murdered my son.”

“I cannot forgive my unfaithful wife.”

“I cannot forgive my son for being in a same sex relationship.”

“I cannot forgive my father for molesting me.”

“I cannot forgive the man who raped me.”

“Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”  We are all sinners. We have sinned against others, talked about others, hurt others. Do we want those we have offended to forgive us?

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Christ forgave those who were crucifying him as the nails were being pounded into his hands and feet.  It seems unimaginable that Christ could forgive the men who were crucifying Him.  It’s sometimes unimaginable to us to think of forgiving someone who has hurt us tremendously.

Likewise, we must forgive, even if the person we’re forgiving doesn’t want to be forgiven. Forgiving those who have sinned against us is for our benefit and for our soul.  Holding onto grudges is not good for our spiritual well-being. It doesn’t matter what someone has done to us. If God is going to forgive us — no matter what we have done — then we must forgive those who have harmed, hurt or offended us in any way.

Of course, forgiving someone is much, much easier said than done.  If we feel that we cannot forgive, then it’s important to pray for the grace to forgive.  Then fast for the person you need to forgive.  Fasting and sacrificing for someone who has hurt you is very powerful and will give you the graces you need to forgive. We can do impossible things with God’s grace.

Also, if you have a difficult time forgiving those who have offended you in big ways, try practicing with minor instances.  If a car cuts in front of you, forgive the driver and pray a blessing on him.  If the cashier at a department store is rude, forgive her immediately.  Forgiving in small matters will give us the practice to forgive in more challenging circumstances.

God loves all human beings (even murderers and rapists) as unique and unrepeatable gifts. Jesus died for their sins too.

When we fast today, let us fast for all those who have hurt us, especially those we have a hard time forgiving. Let us fast for all those we have hurt or offended. Let us also fast for all the community prayer intentions as well as for the conversion of terrorists who have continued to murder, torture and rape the innocent.  Let us pray for their conversion of mind, heart, soul and body.

Holy Mary, Pray for us!  Holy Spirit, teach us to pray!


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