THE POPE AT ST. MARTHA’S HOUSE: ”GOD’S FORGIVENESS IS INFINITE” Homily to the Gospel of Matthew (18.21 to 35): "If you do not forgive from your heart, neither will your Father forgive you"

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The Jubilee is the time when debts are condoned. And may the Lent “prepare our hearts to God’s forgiveness”, and make us forgive following His example, “forgetting the sins” of the others. This is how Pope Francis concluded his homily after morning Mass at St. Martha’s House.

Today’s Gospel proposes Peter’s question to Jesus, which is the same we ask our conscience every day: “How many times shall I forgive a brother who has sinned against me?” Jesus replies with the parable of the two debtors: one of them owes a large sum of money to his master and is granted amnesty. Yet, he does not show the same generosity to his debtor who owes him little money. Yet, Pope Francis recalls, in Our Father we pray: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” The forgiveness we ask cannot be separated from the forgiveness we are able to give before God. “It is an equation, the two things go hand in hand. If you are not able to forgive, how will God forgive you? He wants to forgive you, but He will not be able to do so if your heart is closed and mercy cannot enter it.”

It is not easy to forgive. Memory of the evil we have suffered is the biggest obstacle. We say: “Father, I forgive, but I cannot forget the bad thing (s)he has done to me…” You can ask the Lord to forget the wrong someone has done to you, but it is not simple. “We can forgive, but we do not always manage to forget” the Pope said. Yet, we cannot “forgive and say ‘you’re going to pay for this!” We have to learn to “forgive the way God forgives”: “endlessly”. “When God forgives, his forgiveness is so great that it is as if he forgot everything.” If we cannot do the same, it is because “we do not have a merciful heart.” “Do with us according to your clemency” says Azaria in today’s reading from the prophet Daniel. The young man had been sentenced to death for refusing to recant and worship a golden idol. Mat our prayer be the same as Azaria’s: “According to your infinite mercy, save us!”

“The heartfelt forgiveness God always gives us, without end, is mercy,” the Holy Father said, asking the congregation to “prepare their heart to receive God’s forgiveness. Receive it, then do the same with the others: forgive with your heart”. Thus, “we get closer to God’s infinite mercy.” Forgiving the others, “we open our hearts so that God’s mercy can come in and forgive us. Because all of us need to ask forgiveness, all of us. “So, “let us forgive and be forgiven. Let us have mercy towards the others and feel the mercy of God Who forgets when he forgives.”

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