God pardons us 77 times, but that is with the presumption that we too forgive others.
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis gave this reminder during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on the readings of the day, also warning that Satan tries to discourage us from forgiveness, ‘enslaving us’ to hatred.
The Holy Father’s homily centered on acknowledging our sinfulness and, in order to be forgiven by God, forgiving others.
Recalling today’s First Reading from the Book of Daniel, the Pontiff remembered Azariah. Even after being thrown into a burning furnace for refusing to deny the Lord, Azariah does not complain to God for his suffering nor blame Him, but continues professing God’s greatness.
Accusing ourselves, as Francis described it, is the first step towards forgiveness, and also demonstrates Christian wisdom.
When we approach the sacrament of penance, Francis stressed, we ought to have this attitude, of realizing that despite how much God has given me and continues to give me, that I have sinned against Him. Sorry for offenses, we ask Him for salvation.
The Jesuit Pontiff recalled that once at a confessional there was a woman who tried to justify herself by sharing a long list of the sins of her mother-in-law. The confessor, he told those present, cut her short asking her to start confessing her own sins.
The Lord loves a contrite heart, Francis noted, saying those who trust in God are never disappointed.
“A contrite heart tells the truth to the Lord. And what the Lord does is shuts our mouth, like the father does to the Prodigal Son. He does not allow him to speak, but covers him with love, forgiving everything.”
The Holy Father invited Christians not to be ashamed of admitting their sins, assuring them that the Lord justifies us by forgiving us, “not just once but always,” but, reminding that there is the condition that we forgive others.
It is not easy to forgive, the Pope acknowledged, because rancor “makes a nest in our hearts, always leaving behind a bitter taste. We often narrate a lot of things others have done to us.”
Pope Francis concluded, warning Christians against being enslaved to hatred and urging them to keep two things in mind: one, we need to praise the Lord and acknowledge our sins; and two, God pardons us seventy times seven, provided we forgive others.