April/May 2014 - Vol. 73

On the Lord's Prayer

From the writings of Cassian, 4th century

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive 
those who trespass against us

The mercy of God is beyond description. While he is offering us a model prayer he is teaching us a way of   life whereby we can be pleasing in his sight.

But that is not all. In this same prayer he gives us an easy method for attracting an indulgent and merciful judgment on our lives. He gives us the possibility of ourselves mitigating the sentence hanging over us and of compelling him to pardon us. What else could he do in the face of our generosity when we ask him to forgive us as we have forgiven our neighbor?

If we are faithful in this prayer, each of us will ask  forgiveness for our own failings after we have forgiven the sins of those who have sinned against us. I mean those who have sinned against us, not only those who  have sinned against our Master.

There is, in fact, in some of us a very bad habit. We treat our sins against God, however appalling, with gentle indulgence: but when by contrast it is a matter of sins against us ourselves, albeit very tiny ones, we
exact reparation with ruthless severity.

Anyone who has not forgiven from the bottom of the heart the brother or sister who has done him wrong will only obtain from this prayer his own condemnation, rather than any mercy. It will be his own action that draws a much more severe judgment on himself, seeing that in effect by these words we are asking God to behave as we have behaved ourselves.

                                       [Breviario Patristico © 1971 Piero Gribaudi Editore, Turin, Italy; translated by Paul Drake] 

Commentary on the Lord's Prayer

» The Privilege and Responsibility of Calling God Father, by Cyril of Alexandria
» God  Our Father, by Cyril of Jerusalem
» Who art in Heaven, by Gregory of Nyssa
» Hallowed by thy Name, by Origen
» Thy Kingdom Come, by Origen
» Thy will be done, by Origen
» Give us our daily bread, by Gregory of Nyssa
» Forgive us our trespasses, by Cassian
» And lead us not into temptation, by Origen
» But deliver us from evil, by Cyprian of Carthage

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