To forgive means not to judge

Forgiving our debtors

September 13, 2021

Forgiving our debtors

Greetings to all of you on this Glorious Sunday! Congratulations on taking your communion!

We continue to follow the annual cycle of our Church. Our church year begins and ends with the glorious resurrection of our Lord. Already, it is the afterfeast of the Dormition of the Theotokos.

In our Gospel readings, we read about a man who was forgiven but did not forgive. Our debt to Christ, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is enormous. It is limitless to the extent that we have no chance of repaying it, ever. We will always remain His debtors. On this earth, there are people whom we consider our debtors.

The short text of the prayer "Lord Our Father" has these precious lines, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors". They talk about the admission of our sinfulness and unworthiness. They remind us that our debtors are not just those who owe us money, but they are also people who we should not judge. By judging others, we are claiming a debt that we should have forgiven. We assert our power and superiority instead of exercising caution and showing kindness, even when we see a weakness in another. We do not see the person behind the weakness. We do not appreciate that in his momentary infirmity, he may not know what he is doing.

"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), asked Jesus Christ in His prayer and taught us to do the same.

By doing as He teaches, we develop the habit of kindness and goodwill essential for our oneness in Him. But when we disobey, we fall into the sin of condemnation. As a result, we separate ourselves from God and lose His grace. We take on our shoulders an enormous burden that can break us. Cracking under it, people start to say, "My life is no good. Nothing works. I am done." I sometimes get to hear from the penitents, "Nothing is going to make a difference for me, father. I will perish. I have sinned so much - no one will ever forgive me. Whatever I do, it is not going to change."

Yet this kind of despair only speaks of pride. Coming to the Church, we must believe in God's forgiveness. We should trust that God will hear out prayers and help because He cares. We must all work on keeping our faith and trust alive.

Where are we? At the temple of God! Who have we come to? To God! His love is infinite and boundless. We must leave no room for complacency and be mindful of our life choices. We must learn to live differently by recognising our debt before God and forgiving our debtors.

O, Lord! Glory to You!

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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