"‘If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.’ ”
When we look at the Our Father in the context of Saint Matthew’s gospel account, it’s striking that the first topic that Jesus discusses after ‘handing over’ this prayer to His disciples is the forgiveness of sins. This is not surprising, but it is striking. The Our Father is sometimes considered to be a compendium of the Gospel. And after giving us the “treasury” of the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord begins to teach by discussing the reality of sin.
Challenge those who dismiss either Lenten penance, or the Christian belief in sin itself. But recognize, at the same time, that Jesus’ words following today’s Gospel passage point us not only beyond our own sins, but even point us beyond the divine Love that we see when we look at the crucifix. Jesus points us outwards, to “those who trespass against us”. As Christians, we are defined not by our own sins, nor even—in the end—only by God’s love. In the end, we are defined by the manner in which we turn to others and forgive them as we have been forgiven by God the Father, by means of the very love by which He has forgiven us.