Say it like you mean it

Readings for Tuesday March 9, 2010

First Reading: Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “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. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back. But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” (Mt 18:21-35)

Do you remember when you were a kid (or perhaps you see this with your own kids), and you would do something wrong to a sibling, and once you were caught you were forced to apologize. Typically you would give a snotty, quick "sorry" while you were looking down at the ground. Then you parent would say, "okay that was good, now say it like you mean it." Then you would look up, role your eyes, and say sarcastically, but slowly, "I'm sorry." Then your parent would say, "okay that was good, now say it with less attitude." This whole time of course the person who is being apologized to is simply loving the moment. So this whole saga goes on until a sincere, apology is said and meant.

As Christians, we are greatly challenged in the area of forgiveness. This is at the heart of our faith, for we are meant to forgive others as our heavenly Father forgives us. Jesus gives us some very hard instructions today. First, He tells Peter that we are not only meant to forgive those who do us wrong 7 times, but rather 77 times. Now, I don't know about you, but if someone does the same thing to me 77 times, that is going to be very challenging to forgive them. This is where we are called to let go, and just let God lead. We have the power to forgive, if we so choose, and if we are lacking courage to forgive, then look no further than the Holy Spirit who is there to provide us with courage. Forgiveness, much like love, is a choice, available to anyone who so chooses.

The other area that we are challenged on today, is that we are not just to forgive as many times as it takes, but we are also meant to "forgive from our hearts." This means that we need to "say it like we mean it." Just like we were broken down when we were kids, we need to let God break us down to so that we can not just say that we forgive, but that we truly forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is so powerful in our lives, if we hold on to bitterness and the pain caused by others; this has away of putting us into bondage. It is by the power of forgiveness that we can become free and allow other to be free as well. So no matter how many times it takes, let us make sure that our forgiveness comes from our heart, just as the Lord's does.

I would like to challenge each of you reading this to try and make time to go to confession this week or next. Do a good examination of conscience, and just lay everything out. It is a strong belief of mine that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most underused, and under appreciated Sacraments in the Church, but I can tell you from experience that it is one of the most grace filled and liberating.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with in this life. Lord, help us to forgive those that we are struggling to forgive and to do it from our hearts. Lord, help us to be as kind and as compassionate as you call us to be, and help us to see others through the eyes of love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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