Saturday, July 24, 2010

Forgive us our trespasses

“Forgive us our trespasses—our voluntary share in the world’s sinfulness—as we forgive them that trespass against us,” so Evelyn Underhill begins her meditation on the section of the Lord’s prayer that focuses our attention on forgiveness.

“If we cannot live without His life feeding and supporting us, still less can we live without His loving-kindness, tolerating our imperfections, rectifying our errors, forgiving our perpetual shortcomings and excesses, debts and trespasses, and giving us again and again another chance.

“The Christian doctrine of forgiveness is so drastic and so difficult, where there is a real and deep injury to forgive, that only those living in the Spirit, in union with the Cross, can dare to base their claim on it. It means not only asking to be admitted to the Kingdom of Redeeming Love, but also declaring our willingness to behave as citizens of that Kingdom even under the most difficult conditions.

“All this is supernatural, and reminds us again that the Lord’s Prayer is a supernatural prayer: the prayer of the re-born, the realistic Christian who exists to do God’s will. Even so this clause comes a long way down: after the life of worship, the life of consecration, the prayer that the soul may be fed by the hand of God. Only then is it ready for this supreme test; this quiet and genial acceptance of the wounds of life, all the deliberate injury and the casual damage that come from lack of love; this prayer from the Cross. ‘Love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you.’” (Abba, Evelyn Underhill, Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, PA, 1982, pages 44 to 50.)

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