It isn’t just bread that people need each day; it also is forgiveness.
That was the message Pope Francis delivered April 10, 2019, during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. It was a cool and rainy morning, but that didn’t keep the large crowds of pilgrims from around the world from coming to hear the words of the Holy Father.
The Pope continued his commentaries on the “Our Father” with the line: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12).
“After asking God for daily bread, the ‘Our Father’ prayer enters the area of our relations with others,” the Pope stressed. “The Christian who prays asks God, first of all, to forgive his trespasses, namely, his sins, the bad things he does. This is the first truth of every prayer: even if we were perfect persons, even if we were crystalline saints who never deflect from a life of goodness, we always remain children who owe all to the Father.”
The Holy Father continued with the parable from the 18th chapter of Luke in which the Pharisee thanks God that he isn’t like others, is pleased with himself for not being one of the robbers, evildoers, adulterers. But Jesus points out that the other man in the parable – who admitted being a sinner and begged God’s forgiveness – was the one who went away justified before God.
“What is the most dangerous attitude of every Christian life?” asked Francis. “It’s pride. It’s the attitude of one who puts himself before God thinking that he always has his accounts with Him in order. The proud person believes he has everything in its place.
“And people who think they are perfect, who criticize others are proud people. Not one of us is perfect, not one.”
The Pope explained that “there are sins that are seen and sins that aren’t seen.” And there are sins that “nest in the heart.” Francis suggested the worst of these is pride. The Pope also pointed out that we all are in great debt.
“We are debtors, first of all, because we have received so much in this life: existence, a father and a mother, friendship, the wonders of Creation . . . Even if it happens to all to go through difficult days, we must always remember that life is a grace, it’s a miracle that God extracted from nothing.
“In the second place, we are debtors because, even if we succeed in loving, none of us is able to do so with his/her own strength. True love is when we can love, but with God’s grace. None of us shines with his/her own light.”
Pope Francis encouraged those listening to try to listen to the story of a person who has made a mistake. And we should remember that “we love first of all because we have been loved; we forgive because we have been forgiven.”