Friday of the First Week of Lent
130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8
OF GOD – Out
of the depths of my misery, I cry out to you oh Lord. Teach me
the way of forgiveness.
you, O LORD, should mark our guilt, LORD, who can stand? But with you
is found forgiveness, for this we revere you. (Ps 130: 3-4)
first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer
your gift. (Mt 5:24-25)
spiritual life is not about rules, it’s about relationship. You
can almost hear Jesus saying this in our gospel reading today, when
he points out different laws; You have heard it said… but I say….
He is making the point that all of the Law can be summed up in
Love. And that the more we can forget our anger and forgive one
another; the deeper will be our capacity to love and to be in right
relationship with God and our brother.
says that forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to
forgive. Not my word but CS Lewis’. Forgiveness is one of those
things that makes Christianity so difficult to practice. When we are
hurt, angry, in pain, forgiveness is the very last thing that we want
to do. What we want is justice, reparation, revenge. Yet our Lord
tells us no. No, you must forgive, and not only forgive once, but
every time you have been wronged. We can’t worship rightly with anger
in our heart. We must leave that gift and reconcile with our
brother. Why? Why must I? We demand of God. I am the one
who has been wronged, I am the one hurting, why should I forgive the
person that caused me this pain? Because it is all about love.
God never meant for us to live with anger. He wants us to live
healthy and happy lives. I have come to give life and give it
abundantly. And we can’t live life to its fullest when we are full of
anger and resentment. Ultimately forgiveness is the necessary first
step in sacrificial love-agape love. The decision to forgive puts one
on the long road to love, because forgiveness is not a one-time
decision, it is a process. A decision made over and over again every
day. Jane Frances de Chantal was the wife of a French Baron.
She loved her husband deeply and the two of them practiced charity
both in the home and in their community. One day her husband and a
friend of his went hunting. There was an accident and her husband was
killed. Before he died, he told his friend, don’t commit the sin of
hating yourself when you have done nothing wrong." Jane could
not have that kind of forgiveness, though she knew she should. So, she
practiced it, first by just saying hello to the man as they passed by
in the street and eventually, she got to the point of inviting him
into her home, and ultimately was god mother to his child. The point
is that forgiveness does not come naturally to us, and we must
practice it. Every day. All day. First start with
our families. The Catechism says the family is a school of
forgiveness. We can start there and work our way to others.
Lord. You know how hard it is for me to find forgiveness in my
heart to those who have done me wrong. I demand justice from
you not mercy. Yet when faced with my own shortcomings I ask
you for mercy even though I am not willing to give it myself.
Help me to cultivate a forgiving heart. Help me to be
like you where from the cross you were able to cry out to the Father,
not for justice but forgiveness for those who had crucified you.
Father, forgive them.