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|St. Thomas Aquinas|
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WHAT MUST WE DO?
Concerning the third consideration of this petition, it must be known that on our part we are required to forgive our neighbor the offenses which he commits against us. Thus, we say: "As we forgive those who trespass against us." Otherwise God would not forgive us: "Man to man reserveth anger: and doth he seek remedy of God?"14 "Forgive and you shall be forgiven."15 Therefore, only in this petition is there a condition when it says: "As we forgive those who trespass against us." If you do not forgive, you shall not be forgiven.
But you may think, "I shall say what goes first in the petition, namely, 'forgive us,' but that 'As we forgive those who trespass against us,' I shall not say." Would you seek to deceive Christ? You certainly do not deceive Him. For Christ who made this prayer remembers it well, and cannot be deceived. If therefore, you say it with the lips, let the heart fulfill it.
But one may ask whether he who does not intend to forgive his neighbor ought to say: "As we forgive those who trespass against us." It seems not, for such is a lie. But actually it must be said that he does not lie, because he prays not in his own person, but in that of the Church which is not deceived, and, therefore the petition itself is in the plural number.16 And it must also be known that forgiveness is twofold. One applies to the perfect, where the one offended seeks out the offender: "Seek after peace."17 The other is common to all, and to it all are equally bound, that one offended grant pardon to the one who seeks it: "Forgive thy neighbor if he hath hurt thee; and then shall thy sins be forgiven to thee when thou prayest."18 And from this follows that other beatitude: "Blessed are the merciful." For mercy causes us to have pity on our neighbor.
14. Ecclus., xxviii. 3.
15. Luke, vi. 37.
16. "Nor do we say 'forgive me,' but 'forgive us,' because the brotherly relationship and charity which subsist between all men demand of each of us that, being solicitous for the salvation of our neighbor, we pray also for them while offering prayers for ourselves" ("Roman Catechism," "loc. cit.," 16).
17. Ps. xxxiii. 15.
18. Ecclus., xxviii. 2.
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