Don't hold grudges; forgiveness comes from forgiving others, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians must let go of resentments and
forgive those who have wronged them so that they may experience God’s forgiveness, Pope Francis.

This can be particularly difficult when “we carry with
us a list of things that have been done to us,” the pope said in his
homily March 6 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“God’s forgiveness is felt strongly within us as long
as we forgive others. And this isn’t easy because grudges make a nest in our
heart and there is always that bitterness,” he said.

The pope reflected on the day’s first reading from the
prophet Daniel in which Azariah, one of three young men condemned to death in a
fiery furnace, courageously prays
for deliverance from God.

“Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in
your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to
your name, O Lord,” Azariah prayed.

Although Azariah is innocent of the crime he is condemned
for, the pope explained, his attitude of recognizing his own personal sins is
the same attitude Christian men and women should have when approaching the
sacrament of penance.

“Accusing ourselves is the first step toward
forgiveness,” the pope said. “To accuse one’s self is part of the
Christian wisdom. No, not accusing others; (accuse) ourselves. ‘I have sinned.'”

God, he added, “welcomes a contrite heart” and
when Christians readily admit their faults, “the Lord covers our mouths
like the father did to the prodigal son; he does not let him speak. His love
covers it, he forgives all.”

“These are the two things that help us understand the
path of forgiveness: ‘You are great Lord, unfortunately I have sinned’ and
‘Yes, I forgive you 70 times seven as long as you forgive others,” Pope
Francis said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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