The Pope said this at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House. He added that forgiveness must be sincere, it does not mean “apologising for a mistake but being aware of sin and of idolatry”
Domenico Agasso jr Taken from Vatican Insider
RomeIn the homily he delivered at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House Pope Francis explained the difference between asking for “forgiveness” and “apologising”.
In order to ask the Lord for forgiveness a person must act as is written in the “Our Father”: repent of their sins with sincerity in the knowledge that God forgives always and forgive others with equal generosity and joy.
A closed heart can in a way also block God’s omnipotence. A closed heart is a heart that does not know forgiveness and is not willing to give it. Today the Pope concentrated on the Gospel story which recounts how Christ explains to Peter that we must forgive “seventy times seven”, that is, “always”, stressing that the forgiveness the Lord God grants men and the forgiveness people grant their neighbours are closely linked.
It all starts with how one presents oneself to God to ask for forgiveness. Citing the day’s Reading, in which the prophet Azariah asks for mercy for his people who are suffering but are also guilty of “abandoning the Lord’s law”. Azariah, Francis highlighted, “does not complain to God” about this suffering but admits the mistakes the people have made and “repents: asking for forgiveness is different, it is not the same as apologising. I made a mistake? Sorry, I made a mistake… I sinned! They are two completely different things. Sin isn’t a simple mistake. Sin is idolatry, it is worshiping idols, the idol of pride, of vanity, of money, of oneself, of wellbeing… We have so many idols. And so Azariah does not apologise, he asks for forgiveness.”
But this request for forgiveness must be sincere, it must come from the bottom of the heart and at the same time it must be given. Just as the master does in the parable told by the Son of God, the master forgives and cancels a servant’s debt after the latter’s entreaties. But the servant does not do the same with another fellow servant who owes him money: he shows no mercy and allows his to be sent to prison despite the trivial sum he owed.
Forgiveness, Francis underlined, is that which the Lord teaches in the “Our Father: Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father in this way: “Forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors” If I am not able to forgive, then I am not able to ask for forgiveness. ‘But, Father, I confess, I go to confession ….’. ‘And what do you do before you confess?’ ‘Well, I think of the things I did wrong.’ ‘Alright’ ‘Then I ask the Lord for forgiveness and promise not to do those things again.’ ‘Okay…and then go to the priest? Before you do, however, you’re missing something: have you forgiven those who have hurt you?’”
Basically, Francis summed up: the forgiveness God will give you requires the forgiveness that you give to others: “This is what Jesus teaches us about forgiveness: first, asking forgiveness is not a simple apology, it is to be aware of the sin, of the idolatry that I have committed, of the many idolatries; second, God always forgives, always – but He asks me to forgive [others]. If I do not forgive, in a sense, I close the door to God’s forgiveness. ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’”