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When forgiving is super-human, call on grace

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Pope invites us to stop the cycle of evil and revenge by beginning again with a story of grace

God requires us to forgive others with a “merciless conjunction,” Pope Francis said in reflecting on the Our Father: We pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

But forgiveness can require super-human strength, the pope acknowledged.

Speaking about this fifth petition of the Lord’s prayer, Francis said that in our relationship with God, there will always be an “uncancellable debt,” something we could never pay back. No matter how hard we try, “God loves us infinitely more than we love him,” the pope said.

And with that infinite goodness, God invites us to be good to others. “The two parts of the invocation [regarding forgiveness] are tied together with a merciless conjunction: We ask the Lord to forgive our debts, our sins, ‘as’ we forgive our friends, the people who live with us, our neighbors, the people who have not been good to us.”

Forgiveness can feel impossible, the pope reflected.

But if you cannot do it, ask the Lord to give you the strength to do it: Lord, help me to forgive. Here we find the bond between love for God and love of neighbor. Love calls for love; forgiveness calls for forgiveness.

It is Jesus who “inserts the power of forgiveness into human relationships,” the Bishop of Rome continued.

Justice isn’t enough. It doesn’t resolve everything, Francis said. Sometimes we have to stop the cycle of evil, of tit for tat.

Someone must love beyond what is necessary, to start again a story of grace. Evil knows its revenge, and if it is not interrupted, it risks spreading and suffocating the whole world.

Jesus replaces the “law of retaliation – what you did to me, I will do in turn to you – with the law of love: What God has done to me, I will give back to you!”

Let us think today, in this very beautiful Easter week, if we are able to forgive. And if we do not feel capable, we must ask the Lord to give us the grace to forgive, because knowing how to forgive is a grace.

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