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

There are few things more satisfying for a sports fan than watching his or her team work together to perform a well-executed play.   Whether it’s a touchdown pass in football, a double play in baseball, or a spectacular goal in soccer, it’s gratifying to see all of the players do their part to make that play successful.

But what if your team is riddled with injuries?   The play may come up short because the key players are hurting.

If we think of the Church as a team, we are all key players, and unforgiveness is one type of injury that clearly hinders our ability to make a difference in the world.   Jesus tells us that we receive his forgiveness in the same measure as we forgive the people around us.   If we don’t forgive them, we block God’s mercy from flowing into us—and out of us.   So forgiveness is not just about us.   It’s about everyone on the team and helping all of us to move forward together in God’s grace.

One way to grow in forgiveness is to take the long view.   In sports, when a teammate makes you angry, you lose sight of your objective, and the whole team suffers.   You can’t fulfill your own role, and your teammates have one less comrade.   But if you think beyond your injury and look toward your goal, your focus will shift from yourself to your team mates.   You will focus more on winning than on reliving the past.

It’s the same in the Christian life.   Ruminating on past hurts not only distracts us, but it makes us ineffective disciples.   It divides us from each other and hinders the work of the Church.   We need to keep our hearts free of bitterness so that we can move together toward our goal: eternal life with Jesus.

Certainly, forgiving someone is not always easy.   But your first step is to see that you are both on the same team.   Then you can ask God for the grace to forgive, and choose to let go of the offense.   When you relinquish your right to hold a grudge against someone, you release yourself as well.   Little by little, you will be able to love more freely.   Your teammate may be touched by God’s mercy as well—and everybody wins.

word among us