So will my Heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your bother from your heart.
Day Eighteen of Lent: Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent – Matthew 18
So will my Heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your bother [or sister] from your heart – Matt 18:35.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
Even though it did not happen, you have to love Peter for at least trying to put a number on the number of times we must forgive. Why? Because it’s so human. Jesus’ response however, has been forever seared into our hearts and conscience: Seventy times seven times! In other words, without limit. Peter asking for a finite number though should remind us of ourselves – of our fallenness. Let’s be honest, we don’t usually want to forgive others for their misgivings. Yet, we want to be forgiven. Similarly, we don’t want God to forgive our enemy … but we want forgiveness for our wrongdoings. We are an interesting breed, aren’t we?
So often we miscalculate God’s expectations as well as His infinite mercy. Jesus reminds us that as true disciples there can be no limit on forgiveness. Following Christ wholly and honestly demands that we place all our hurts and resentment behind us. In so doing, we must lay down our ego and pride … which is exactly the point. Forgiveness keeps our heart tender rather than hardened, soft and loving – a prerequisite of our faith. Moreover, we are able to build necessary Christ-like virtues through the virtue of humility. This is of course by divine design. In His love and omniscience, Jesus knew what was best for us both temporally and eternally. He knew that forgiveness was the doorway not only to His eternal blessings and sanctity but to total freedom here and now.
Day 18 Lenten Meditation
When was the last time you forgave someone? Can you remember the emotions you felt during the process? How did you feel afterwards? Oftentimes, it is not until after we have finally forgiven someone that we realize how light – how wonderful – we feel no longer carrying the heavy burden of unforgiveness. This is not to say that we will not carry some of our scars with us after forgiveness. We will. But when we learn to let the heaviest of burdens go and extend Christ’s mercy to other fallen people, we become like Him – we share in His perfection. When that happens, we move from “glory to glory,” little by little becoming exactly who Christ has always wanted us to become – and that is when life truly begins.
Merciful Father, You are slow to anger and quick to forgive. We pray to be able to follow that example even when it is not easy. Give us patience, Lord; give us compassion and the ability to see You in others. Master of mercy, through faith You are moved to free us from this prison we so often fashion for ourselves. May Your Spirit and grace convict us when we are hardhearted, and may Your gentleness continue to transform our hearts. It is in Your good and holy Name we pray, amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Point out to another his or her gifts and blessed qualities. Remind them how important they are.
“Oh, God, to know You is life. To serve You is freedom. To praise You is the soul’s joy and delight. Guard me with the power of Your grace here and in all places. Now and at all times, forever. Amen” – Saint Augustine.