Go first and be reconciled with your brother…
Day Nine of Lent: 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 – Matt 5:23.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
Today’s Bible verse has the ability stir up some deep feelings within us. More than likely, every person reading this article has at least one unresolved issue with someone else and is in need of some kind of forgiveness. This life is built upon relationships with other people, all of whom (all of us!) are fallen, and thus there is bound to be various conflicts along the way. Some of these relationships are deeply intimate and more central to our lives while others more tangential. Regardless of the nature, every relationship we encounter has the power to wound.
Jesus’s Words in today’s Gospel are important: “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.” What humility this takes! It is extremely difficult to seek out those we’ve fallen away from and make things right again. In some cases, resolution may not even possible. The person is perhaps gone from our lives or maybe trying to reconcile with them would cause even greater harm. Whatever the case is, we are to honor Christ’s command – even if only through prayer to Him for another.
When forgiveness is needed in difficult situations, we must pray. We pray for those who have hurt us and those we have hurt. It’s worth highlighting that it is most important to ask God to forgive us for the times we have been the guilty party. What’s also important is that once we’ve asked God for forgiveness, we must then forgive ourselves. Carrying the burden of grief and guilt is no longer ours to bear once God has taken it from us.
While forgiveness is a difficult, we must understand that God’s command in today’s Gospel reading is non-negotiable. God tells us that when we forgive others for what they have done to us (and when we forgive ourselves for what we have done to others), we bring about a change that reverberates throughout not only our own lives but the whole world. Forgiveness is a prerequisite for experiencing true freedom. It is the key that opens the door to God’s eternal blessings, one of which is total healing of heart, mind, and soul.
Day 9 Lenten Meditation
Is there someone in particular who has caused you pain? Allow yourself to reflect on that situation and then pray about it. Offer both the situation and that person up to God. After you have prayed, release all the pain from your heart by telling God that you trust Him to take it. He will honor your faith by transforming your former trials into future testimony; He will offer freedom in exchange for the heavy chains of unforgiveness. Every humble prayer of charity (praying for others – especially those who have hurt us) leads us closer to God, and there is nothing more important than this.
All merciful Father, we are all guilty of hurting others; and we ourselves have been hurt. As such, we often carry around heavy wounds of the past. Today, however, we come to the foot of the Cross and wish to release all of our pain in faith. We know that by Your stripes we are healed; in You we are once again made whole. Please give us the courage to ask for forgiveness and to forgive those who have wounded us. We desire above all to honor Your command so that we may find perfect communion with You. It is in Your good and holy Name we pray, Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Make a gesture of reconciliation with someone from whom you are now alienated. If that is not possible, say a prayer of blessing for that person and ask God to heal the situation.
“Never see a need without trying to do something about it” –Saint Mary Mackillop.