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 from your heart – Matthew 18:35.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
Even though it didn’t happen, you gotta love Peter for at least trying to put a number on the number of times we must forgive. Jesus’ response, however, is direct and forever seared into the hearts and minds of all men: Seventy times seven. In other words, we must forgive without limit. Peter asking for a finite number reminds us of our fallenness. Let’s be honest, we don’t usually want to forgive others for their misgivings yet we want to be forgiven ourselves. Similarly, we don’t want God to forgive our enemy but we want forgiveness for our wrongdoings. See the hypocrisy?
So often we miscalculate God’s expectations of us. Jesus reminds us that as His true disciples there can be no limit on forgiveness. Following Christ truly and honestly demands us placing all our hurts and resentments behind us. In so doing, we lay down our ego, pick up the virtue of humility, and begin to trust God. Forgiveness not only keeps our heart tender rather than hardening over time, it also allows God to forgive us for all our wrongdoing. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. In His perfect love and omniscience, Jesus knew what was best for us temporally – here and now – and eternally. He knew that forgiveness was the doorway to eternal blessings, our sanctity, and total freedom here, now, and forevermore.
Day 18 Lenten Meditation
When was the last time you forgave someone? Can you remember the emotions you felt afterwards? Oftentimes, it is not until after we have forgiven someone that we realize how light and wonderful we feel no longer carrying the heavy burden of unforgiveness. This is not to say we won’t still carry some of our scars with us. We will. But when we learn to let the heaviest of burdens go and extend Christ’s mercy to other fallen people just as He has done for us, we become like Him – like Christ. In other words, we build Christ-like virtue (which, by the way, leads to sainthood!). Through forgiveness we begin to share in His perfection, moving from “glory to glory,” and little by little we become exactly who Christ has always intended.
Merciful Father, You are slow to anger and quick to forgive. We pray to be able to follow Your example even when it is not easy and when someone else is not easy to love. We ask You to give us patience. Give us Your 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 close ourselves in. May Your Spirit and grace convict us when we are hardhearted, and may Your gentleness continue to transform our hearts little by little, day by day. 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.