READ: Colossians 3:12-17

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
-Matthew 6:12 (NRSV)

When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Jesus knew that forgiving those who hurt us is difficult; but his teaching that immediately follows the Lord's Prayer reminds us that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. When Peter asked Jesus about the number of times we must forgive, Jesus used the figure "seventy times seven," implying that we are to place no limits on forgiving others.

At times we may feel resentful and unwilling to forgive. We may even blame God for allowing painful experiences. We question why a loving God would allow suffering. We want to know why good people suffer while the wicked escape suffering and even flourish. There are no easy answers. Indeed, it is a mystery beyond our understanding that God allowed Jesus to suffer and die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. If Jesus could die that terrible death for us, surely we can forgive the wrongs of others.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian message -- God's forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of one another. This is the source of our hope for peace in the world. What the world needs is not retaliation but compassion.
 Anne Rasmussen (Somerset, England)

Dear God, help us to forgive, even when it seems beyond our power to do so, as we pray, Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. Amen.

God can help us to forgive even if reconciliation is not possible.

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