desiring desire

Mar 6, 2018

The Our Father is the best known Christian prayer and is the prayer that all Christians can pray together. Contained in the prayer is the heart of today’s gospel: forgive us as we forgive others.

“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

We all struggle with forgiving those who have hurt us and those we love. Sometimes the hurt is recent, but very often we carry wounds and lack of forgiveness for years and even for decades.

Often the reason we struggle to forgive is because we have forgotten how much we have ourselves already been forgiven by others and by God. The one who knows how much they are loved is able to love others, and the one who realises how much they have been forgiven will be able to forgive others.

My lack of forgiveness rarely affects the one who has caused my pain, but it has a huge negative effect on me emotionally, physically, psychologically and therefore spiritually. When I fail to forgive I am giving the one who has hurt me power to affect negatively my daily well-being. On more than one occasion this fact has shaken me awake to my need and desire to forgive.

Sometimes the one we struggle to forgive has been dead for many years and we might feel as if we have missed our chance to forgive. It is true that for a variety of reasons we may not be able to speak to the person we need to forgive, but this human conversation is not always necessary.

Forgiveness is not easy.

How can we more fully live the prayer we pray and forgive others as we have been forgiven?

Many years ago I learnt from Ignatius of Loyola to pray with my deepest desire.

To paraphrase Ignatius’ teaching and relate it to forgiveness: if you cannot forgive, then pray for the desire to forgive.

If you can’t pray for the desire to forgive, then pray for the desire for the desire to forgive.

If you cant do this, then pray for the desire for the desire for the desire to forgive.

You are probably smiling now as I am. This humour when facing our human need to forgive is very helpful. The humour shifts our focus from our own inability to forgive to the willingness of God to give us the gift of forgiveness. It is God who enables us to find freedom through forgiveness of those who have hurt us.

The wonderful reality is that when we pray this prayer for the desire for the desire, at some point in the prayer we find the words we can pray whole-heartedly. We may not want to pray for the desire to forgive because perhaps we think the other does not deserve our forgiveness. But we might be able to pray for the desire for the desire.

We forget that forgiveness is not a human achievement. The ability to forgive others is the gift of God When we find the words that we can wholeheartedly pray (even with conditions) the Holy Spirit will not miss the opportunity to begin the healing.

What have you got to lose?

An invitation:

Take a moment now to call to mind someone you find it difficult to forgive. Don’t worry about who was right or who was wrong, simply begin to pray for the desire (for the desire for the desire…) to forgive. Jesus is now leading you forward.

Conclude this brief prayer by thanking Jesus for all he has forgiven you for.


  1. Forgiveness is easy to talk about yet so hard to carry out. One relationship that is most challenging is between mother and daughter during adult years. When forgiveness takes place it is so healing, and can lead to a peace filled death and ongoing peace for the one who lives on which is usually the daughter. Thank you Fr John

  2. Dear Father John, the gospel today & your reflection gives great impact,for years it is only now Ive realized how to ask Jesus the desire for the desire to forgive. I am a sinner and yet Christ still forgives & love me unconditionally. Today, you give light & open my mind & heart my desire to pray the desire for the desire to forgive. Thank you, God bless❤️

  3. When it seems completely impossible to forgive someone who has deliberately and continually caused harm, the surest way is to kneel in the presence of the LORD, and ask Him to send His grace and strength…..and He will!!!!!

  4. Fr Benito’s sermon this morning reiterated your words Father. To hear this message twice within the hour leaves a clear message. Now in Lent is the perfect time to make peace and forgive. Thank you Father’s!!

  5. I pray for the desire for those who I’ve hurt, the desire to forgive.
    Lord have mercy on us all

  6. I read the following words somewhere. “Summon the humility to apologise. You may not be apologising because you agree the other person is right. Apologise because the incident happened and someone was hurt.” Maybe l could replace the word apologise with the word forgive.

  7. I reflected on both today’s reading and the reading at last Sundays Mass about Jesus cleansing the Temple. Which does seem juxtaposed to today’s reading. Jesus and Peter had a strong relationship of forgiveness, which is seen throughout the Gospels. However this reading seems to go onto to say that forgiveness is a double edged sword. The joy of the servant who had been relieved of such a large debt should have been immense, but instead the servant used his forgiveness to inflict pain and suffering on another who had a debt. Taking us back to Jesus cleansing the temple-the King did not forgive the wicked servant again, Jesus did not forgive the money changers he took a whip to them. The mercy of the King towards the wicked servant was revoked and the servant jailed and punished until his debt was paid in full. A cleansing of the Kings court.

    I know in my life there are people who instantly forgive me and I them. I presume like Jesus and Peter. It is reciprocal. Then there are some who no matter how much I forgive them in my heart, with actions and words, will keep me suffering, imprisoned and in pain. Then I reflect on Jesus on the Cross and the words he spoke as he died “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” then I let go and put into God’s hands and I trust in Him that He will cleanse me-His temple of this wicked person.

  8. I love it to pray for the desire etc I had never looked at forgiveness that way thankyou . In fact I guess the pray for the desire can apply not only to forgiveness but to so many other areas we struggle with in daily life

  9. Another inspiring homily this morning, reminds me of a small piece that I read some time back;
    “None of us passes through life without hardship and great sorrow. Shed tears for your grief but do not hold bitterness against any person or any situation. Bitterness stuns the spirit and weakens the heart. Accept what you cannot change and ask God and your fellowman for comfort. In that way you will live well. Give in to the bitterness and you will never fully live.”
    And believe it or not my daily thought for today says…Live forgiveness every day rather than just talking about it on Sunday.
    God be with you on your next journey, Father John.


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