Readings for Tuesday March 29, 2011
First Reading: Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. (Daniel 3:39-41)
In today's first reading from Daniel, Azariah (one of the three who were in the fiery furnace), begins saying this beautiful prayer. Realizing that he has nothing to offer the Lord; Azariah responds with complete humility and offers up himself. Not only does he offer himself up during this difficult time, but he prays to God for the ability to follow Him with his whole heart. In this story from the book of Daniel, Azariah and two others were thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not worship another God as the king had commanded. When tested by the heat and the flames, Azariah responds in pray with humility and thanksgiving. How do we respond when we too are tested by the heat and the flames that life often brings?
In the gospel today, we are told that we must forgive others not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! This is certainly not an easy thing for us to do. While most of us are good about forgiving someone their mistakes the first few times, we seem to have a low tolerance when it comes to repeated mistakes. But this is what we are called to do in life, be patient and forgive as many times as it takes. This is what it means to be a disciple, to pick up our cross and to follow and imitate Christ. We are to forgive others as many times as God continues to forgive us. Are we not guilty of repeated mistakes against the Lord as well? How many times do we neglect the Lord and fill our days with other things instead of time with Him? How many times do we disobey His commandments? How many times do we find ourselves going to reconciliation for the same things over and over? If God is willing to show us mercy and forgive us each time, why do we think that we can treat anyone else any differently? We must pray for hearts full of mercy and act with forgiveness and compassion towards those who wrong us, even when it is very difficult.
We have a choice in life, we can be like Azariah and follow the Lord with humility, thankfulness, and trust; or we can be like the wicked servant and forget what has been done for us and continue to seek our own will? How will we respond to the heat and the flames?
Father above we thank you for this day. Lord we praise you for all your blessings you continue to give us each day. Lord, we pray that like your servant Azariah, we too will follow you with humility and with our entire heart. Lord, you are the one true great God, help us to serve and show reverence for you as you deserve. Lord we wish to hold nothing back from you, and to give ourselves totally to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.