Leave your gift there at the altar, 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 Gospel verse has the ability stir up some deep feelings within us. I would bet that every person reading this has at least one unresolved issue with another person in need of forgiveness. Perhaps that person in need is yourself. The odds of this are good because life is built upon relationships with other people. Some are deeply intimate and central to our lives while others are more tangential. Regardless, every relationship, big and small, has the power to wound.
Jesus’s Words in today’s Gospel are overwhelming but 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.” O what humility this takes! We all know how difficult it is to seek out those who we have had a rift with and make things right again. In some cases it may not even be possible. The person may be gone from our lives, or trying to reconcile with them would cause even greater pain. Whatever the case may be though, we are to honor Christ’s command. So what should we to do?
The answer to this question is to pray. We must pray for those we have hurt and for those who have hurt us. We must ask God to forgive us for the times we have been the guilty party and then … we must forgive ourselves.
Have no doubt, forgiveness, while difficult, is essential. We are taught by God that when we forgive others for what they have done in weakness to us, and when we forgive ourselves for what we have done in ours, we bring about a change that reverberates throughout not only our lives but the whole world. Forgiveness is a prerequisite to experiencing true freedom. In addition, it is the key that will open Heaven’s door to God’s eternal blessings.
Day 9 Lenten Meditation
Think of the people who have caused you pain. Is there someone in particular who comes to mind? Take a moment to reflect on whatever incident it was that wounded you. Some memories are perhaps too painful. If that is the case, it may be wise to seek out professional help from another Christian. But if you are able, allow yourself to reflect on that time of pain and pray about it. Offer it up to God. As difficult as it may be, pray for the person who caused you pain and then release it from your heart by telling God you trust Him to take it and make it right. He promises to honor your faith by transforming your trials into testimony; offering freedom in exchange for heavy chains. Every prayer of forgiveness leads us closer to God, and there is nothing this side of Heaven more important than this.
Forgiving Father, we have hurt others and have ourselves been hurt. Because of this, we often carry around heavy wounds of the past. But today we come to the foot of the Cross and release 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 a person you may have hurt (or has hurt you) and ask God to heal the situation.
“Never see a need without trying to do something about it” –Saint Mary Mackillop.