Over the last couple of weeks I have been slowly savouring Larry Kaufmann’s book ‘Keep it light: Praying through suffering into joy’. In his chapter on forgiveness he likens the phrase from the Our Father ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’ to the terms and conditions of a contract.
As I mulled over this idea alongside another which has been with me a few days since a friend and I were talking about forgiveness. What struck me in the conversation with the friend is that one cannot truly forgive and assume the moral high ground. The two are actually mutually exclusive.
For me, the major key to unlocking my own capacity to forgive was discovering that I had caused harm to another. I learnt to forgive in no small part because I knew I was culpable of harming someone.
The combination of these two ideas seems to me to indicate the reason that this is a part of the Our Father. Once we learn how to forgive seeking the moral high ground loses its appeal. Forgiveness requires a level of honesty and humility which is incompatible with judgement.
If we are called to grow towards unconditional love, surely forgiveness (both giving and receiving) is the gateway.