Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Sermon 83, 2
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” (Mt 5,12)
Everyone is God’s debtor and has his brother as debtor. Indeed, who is there who owes nothing to God except the one in whom no sin could be found?
And who has no brother as his debtor if not the one whom no one has offended?
Do you think you can find a single person in all humankind who is not answerable to his brother for some fault or other?
So each of us is a debtor and has debtors.
That is why the righteous God gives you a rule of conduct regarding your debtor which he follows with regard to his.
For there are two works of mercy able to set us free that the Lord himself teaches us in a few words in his Gospel: “Forgive and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given you” (Lk 6,37f.)… This refers to indulgence and kindness.
This is what he teaches us about forgiveness: you want to be forgiven for your sins and you also have sins to forgive others.
The same applies to charity: a beggar asks you an alms and you are God’s beggar, for we are all beggars of God when we pray to him.
We stand – or rather, we prostrate ourselves – before our Father’s door, before his great bounty.
Groaning, we implore him, anxious to receive something from him: now, this ‘something’ is God himself.
But what is the beggar asking you? Bread?
As for you, what are you asking God if not Christ, who said: “I am the living bread come down from heaven” (Jn 6,51).
Do you wish to be forgiven?
“Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
Do you wish to receive?
“Give, and it will be given you.”