Leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother…
Day 10: Friday of the First Week of Lent – Matthew 5:23
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
Today’s Gospel verse can oftentimes stir up some deep and troubling feelings within us. Who among us has no issues that need to be resolved, forgiven, healed? Life is all about relationships, some deeply intimate and central to our lives, while others are more tangential but still have the power to wound.
When we read today’s Gospel reading, it can feel overwhelming: “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” How can we possibly seek out every person with whom we’ve had a rift with or been wounded by? In some cases, it may not be possible. The person may be gone from our lives. Or, perhaps, trying to reconcile would cause even greater pain. What we can do is pray for them. But as is so often the case, we need to start with ourselves. Can we sit with the pain we have not been able to let go of, pray on it, give it to God, and let the healing begin? Are we able to forgive others as well as ourselves?
Forgiveness is difficult. But when we forgive others for what they have done out of their own weakness as well as forgive ourselves for what we have done out of ours, we bring about a change that reverberates throughout the world. Forgiveness is what truly sets us free.
Day 10 Lenten Meditation
When you think of people who have caused you pain, is there one person in particular who comes to mind? Take some time to reflect on whatever incident it was that wounded you. If it is too painful, seek out spiritual or professional help. But if you are up to it, allow yourself to reflect and pray on it. Pray for the person who may have caused it, and then release it from your heart. Lay it at the foot of the cross and leave it there for your great Healer. It may even be helpful to do something physical to represent this healing. Take a stone for example, and drop it into a pond or write it on a piece of paper and throw it into a fire. Do something that physically signifies that you are giving this hurt away once and for all. Tomorrow, try it again and again … until each and every wound begins to heal by way of the Cross.
Forgiving Father, we have hurt and been hurt. We carry pain with us each day. Today we release our pain to You and ask that those we have wounded can find the compassion to do the same. Please give us the courage to ask for forgiveness of all our sins so that we might pay off the last penny in this life and see God in the next. May peace be upon all of us. Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
*Make a gesture of reconciliation with someone from whom you are alienated
“Never see a need without trying to do something about it” –Saint Mary Mackillop.