Forgiveness: Storing up Treasure in Heaven

God canít forgive us Ö if we donít ask him to
by Benjamin OíLoughlin | Source:

Imagine that you go to the bank to pull some cash. You get in line, and when itís your turn, you tell the teller that you donít need money. That you cashed a check yesterday. That you already did this weekís shopping. That your walletís full. An ATM might not be fazed by all that, but a real flesh and blood bank clerk would probably either recommend that you visit a psychiatrist, or call security. This much is sure: you wonít get any money. Sometimes God feels just like the teller at the bank. Heís waiting for us to just shut up, stop spouting excuses, and let him forgive us. But we donít.

God canít forgive us Ö if we donít ask him to.

Too often, saying weíre sorry means giving excuses. Did we mess up? Yes. Do we feel bad about it? Yes. Do we ask for forgiveness? No, we give excuses. We often hear phrases like: ďI didnít mean toÖĒ ďI didnít knowÖĒ But thatís not the same as ďIím sorry.Ē Excuses are only in order when it really wasnít our fault. In other words, when we donít need forgiveness.

When we do need forgiveness, excuses just donít cut it. God might want to forgive us, but if we only give excuses, if we donít recognize our guilt, he canít.

Letís go back to the bank (preferably not the same one). You take out five grand, and then you turn around and give them to the lady behind you. Thatís right, the stranger you donít know, and whose humming was getting on your nerves. Why? What has she done to deserve it? Nothing. Thatís forgiveness; itís a gift. In other words, we donít deserve it Ö and yet God gives it to us anyway. Horrible crimes exist which no one can forget, but there is no crime so terrible that it canít be forgiven. Thatís what God did on the cross. He forgave the unforgivable. Did his executioners deserve forgiveness? No. However, Christ forgave them anyway.

If weíre not humble enough to recognize our guilt and ask for forgiveness, we wonít be able to forgive others either. If forgiveness is only for the innocent, what happens when someone asks us to forgive the unforgivable? ďIíll never forget what he did to me!Ē ďHow can I forgive him for the death of my son?Ē If forgiving were only about forgetting, they would be right: there are things that canít be forgiven.

Forgiving others and asking for forgiveness, is about as tough as it gets. Going beyond justice to give the gift of love is divine, not human. Yet, in Godís eyes, when we forgive, we are storing up treasure in heaven. So, in a sense, we have the last word:

He will forgive us, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Questions or comments? Please, write to Fr. Nathan Miller,  at

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