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  • Sarah Raad

Trespasses

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Christ the Consoler (Karyukova)

I was reading a story about Saint John Gualberto the other day…


As a member of the noble Visdomini family, living in Florence in 1003, as a young man, Saint John Gualberto travelled through the city often. Once, on Good Friday as Saint John Gualberto was travelling through Florence with his armed guards, he stumbled upon a man who had killed his brother.


The killer knew that he could not escape John or his guards and so he knelt before him and begged for mercy. The criminal said to John Gualberto, “Today is Good Friday. For Christ Who died for us on the Cross: spare my life!” But John initially ignored the begging man, preparing himself to strike a fatal blow with his sword. And then, just before his death, the man muttered – not to John but to Christ – “Jesus, Son of God, at least You forgive me.” John heard these words and immediately threw away his sword, drawing the murderer to him and saying, “For Christ's sake, for His blood poured out on the Cross for us, I forgive you.”


Following this encounter, Saint John Gualberto dismissed his guards and went straight to the Benedictine Church at San Miniato so that he could pray. And while he was praying in front of the large wooden Crucifix inside the Church, the figure of Christ on the Crucifix bowed His head to John in recognition of his generosity. John knew what this meant and he was transformed.


John Gualberto soon entered that same Benedictine monastery and lived a life transformed, eventually being sanctified as Saint John Gualberto.


And I have been reflecting on this story of this saint while I have been praying for a myriad of intentions over the last few days…

You see, in an instant, Saint John Gualberto learned the importance of forgiveness… And I can appreciate this, because – years ago – so too did I…

You see, once – years ago – I watched a 2017 Christian (not Catholic) film called “The Shack”, directed by Stuart Hazeldine. And I watched that film with an open mind. I did not watch it for theological understanding, as I knew it was not Catholic, and it was a film designed to entertain rather than inform. And anyway, there were several heresies present in the film – including the heresy that God the Father was crucified with God the Son. So it was not for theological understanding that I watched that film…


However, despite the few theological misrepresentations of the film, God worked His power into my life for the greater good through that film! You see, it was while watching this film that I learned to forgive…

You see, there is a scene in that film where the protagonist is asked (by God) to forgive the man who murdered his daughter, and he replies, “No. I can’t.” And this reminds me of the millions of times I have replied in the same way. And yet, God does not accept this response. Instead, God replies, “It is not that you can’t forgive. It is that you won’t.”…

And I thought about that long and hard after watching that film because it is entirely true! And once I understood that reality, the hardest part of forgiveness became my DECSION to forgive and not the action of forgiveness itself… Because FORGIVENESS is really just obtaining MASTERY over my own weak will and CHOOSING to submit to the Will of my Heavenly Father – who wishes that all of His children will love each other as He loves us…


And that is a HUGE thing!


Because I pray the Our Father and I reflect on the words of that prayer…


And in that prayer, I ask God to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I do NOT ask Him to forgive according to His mercy or to forgive according to His goodness. I ask Him to forgive me as I forgive them…


And that makes all the difference… Because if I cannot forgive them, there will be no forgiveness for me!


And that makes all the difference…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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