by Fr. Walt Wainwright

Our holy father has been pope for only seven years and along with his many other responsibilities he has written a number of books.  One of them he wrote in the year 2017, entitled “OUR FATHER – RELECTIONS ON THE LORD’S PRAYER”.  It is a very beautiful little book offering the reader reflections on each of the verses in that prayer, the most widely offered prayer in all of Christianity.

On this Sunday when the gospel reading from St. Matthew’s gospel focuses on the theme of forgiveness, I was looking for how I wanted to develop the need for forgiveness in our own lives.  I have read and re-read Pope Francis’ book “OUR FATHER” and every time I find myself turning to page 81 and following where the Holy Father writes about forgiveness.  So. I would like to share with you just a few of the many lessons Pope Francis offers us in this verse “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

One of the first lessons reminds us that we are able to forgive others simply because we ourselves have been forgiven.  Hence, we know what it means to have the burden of some sin or offense from our souls because we have been forgiven and that lasting memory should prompt us to want to forgive another who has offended us.

Of course, one of the important points is that if we are willing to recall that memory of experiencing the blessedness of forgiveness ourselves it will urge us on to forgive another of their offense against us.  That’s a big ‘IF’ for sure.  By praying this beautiful prayer, often and with reflection of our own past deeds we will be doing a lot to keep this memory of forgiveness alive within us.

Pope Francis gives us another example of the overwhelming gift of forgiveness of the Lord himself.  It is in the gospel of the Pasion of Jesus.  While hanging on the cross, along with the other two, who have done evil deeds, one of them turns to Jesus and asks him, “Lord.  Remember me when you come in to your kingdom”.  Jesus, even in the last moments of his own life, turns to the one called the ‘Good Thief’ and says to him. “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

We all have to deal with a lot of different types of people, different personalities, attitudes, upbringing, cultural differences, and all kinds of factors.  They can make it hard sometimes to forgive.  It is at such moments when we need to stop ourselves in our tracks and begin to count the number of times we have been forgiven.  How can we expect our Heavenly Father to forgive us unless we have forgiven our brothers and sisters from our heart.

Within the next week we will take our first steps into the beautiful season of autumn.  For me the autumn is the most beautiful season, it is the most colorful for sure.  It is also the season of the harvest.  May we be thankful for the bounty that has been ours and may we be sure to share with those who have less:  the best way of saying thank you to the Lord.

May we all continue to pray or an end to the pandemic and be blessed with a lasting cure.

Fr. Walt