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Friday, July 23, 2021

Jeremiah 4

ReconciledbannerSincere Repentance – A Reprise

Just when we believe that hope is lost, a door opens. Just when we think that we will not be forgiven, word arrives. Just when we feel the end is near, life begins again. Psalm 133 celebrates the goodness to be found when adversaries determine to reconcile differences.

Assurance

How very good and pleasant it is when we see God in one another despite narrow hearts and tightened minds.

These quick moments delight as surely as a loved one’s gaze renews  . . . as ever a child’s breath blesses her mother’s cheek.

The Lord’s happily granted gift of forgiveness heals all . . . despite our reluctance to respond to God’s love.

The Lord’s freely given gift of life affirms divinity in each . . . despite our reluctance to believe in God’s promise.


Visit the Spiritual Courage post on this blog by entering the words into the blog search bar, and consider the consequence of a severe repentance. What consequences await us when we gather courage to do what we know must be done?

Image from: http://www.everydaychurch.com/cpt_news/reconciled-amaris/

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flame RwandaWednesday, April 14, 2014

Romans 8:11

Genocide

When the country of Rwanda commemorates its anniversary of horrific genocide not with more invective speech but with forgiveness and reconciliation, the people remember with a passion for mercy.  As St. Paul reminds us, with God all impossibilities become possible. In Christ all hope becomes reality. In the Spirit all that was once dead comes to new life in Christ.

The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

And so we pray.

As we continue our journey through Eastertide, let us continue to change ourselves, to bring the light of change to the world, and to live always in the peace of the Living God who raises all death to new life.

As we continue to celebrate the Easter Passion, let us consider how one million dead in Rwanda now rise in the reconciliation of enemies, now live in the acts of forgiveness offered by victims, and in the repentance felt by murderers.

As we move beyond Holy Week, let us pray that we always hear the voice of God. Let us pray that we always see Christ’s light in the darkness. And let us pray that we allow the Spirit to move us as we put the woes and words of the prophet Amos to work for the Gospel of the Christ. Amen.

Rwanda hopes to rise from the ashes of their brutal history to be the light of remembrance, the light of life for Africa and for the world. Now the cleanest and least corrupt country in Africa, Rwanda is hoping to become the Silicone Valley of their continent. Listen here at NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/06/299708652/20-years-later-rwanda-hopes-to-be-a-light-for-the-world

rwanda victim


For more on finding grace and relying on faith after genocide, listen to an interview with the Reverend Celestin Musekura from National Public Radio. Let at: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/04/299054435/finding-peace-after-genocide

For a story from AP News describing Rwanda’s reconciliation villages, go to: https://apnews.com/article/719ac8f0c4da4d2b80976057d869562a 

Or click on the image above to read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Daniel Flitton, and The Malay Mail Online.

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Good Friday, April 2, 2021

Amos 8

Lucas Cranach: Christ and the Adulterous Woman

Lucas Cranach: Christ and the Adulterous Woman

Unlimited Mercy

In a March 2009 reflection, Robert Morneau ponders the forgiveness, mercy and compassion shown to the family of the killer Charles Carl Roberts, the man who murdered five girls and wounded others in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse in 2006. Morneau cites Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI.

“In a world and a culture that is full of wounds, anger, injustice, inequality, historical privilege, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, murder, and war, we must speak always and everywhere about forgiveness, reconciliation, and God’s healing. Forgiveness lies at the center of Jesus’ moral message. The litmus test for being a Christian is not whether one can say the creed and mean it, but whether one can forgive and love an enemy”. (Morneau 46-47)

These words are so true – and yet so difficult.

In a MAGNIFICAT Mini-Reflection on Matthew 18:21-35 we read: After a master forgives his servant a huge debt, that servant refuses similar clemency to a fellow indebted servant. The other servants become “deeply disturbed,” for to receive “great mercy” is in a certain sense to become great mercy. Mercy is our identity, for we are created out of the very mercy of God. (Cameron 29 March 2009)

In today’s Noontime we read about people who not only lack mercy or forgiveness, they buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. They not only lack compassion, they sell the sweepings of the wheat. They would not likely have forgiven the adulterous woman as Jesus does. (Luke 8:1-11) All we need do is tune into the daily news to see or hear events we can identify as equivalent to the events referenced by Amos. It seems that the human race insists on corruption. Yet it seems that Jesus has not abandoned us. He accompanies us still as we struggle with our instinct to survive at all costs.

What we read in Amos is gloomy and sad – yet this prophet offers us a way out of the darkness by calling us to conversion of our mourning with acts of mercy as we move through our days. We need not frustrate ourselves in trying to change our enemies, we need only act with compassion as did the people in the Amish community when they immediately offered forgiveness to the man who had killed their children and himself. And when they visited with the killer’s family to extend their condolences.

This story is true – and yet so difficult.

This Amish community calls us to ask questions of ourselves, and so on this day of holy sacrifice, let us consider. Can we live up to the standard Amos poses? Do we pass the litmus test the prophet suggests? Do we extend the same limitless mercy to others that God extends to us?


Find the story about Charles Carl Roberts at: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/mother-amish-killer-cares-survivor-son-massacre-article-1.1542337

Morneau, David. “The Litmus Test”. DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR LENT: Not by Bread Alone. Collegeville, Minnesota. 2011.46-47. Print.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 29 March 2009. Print.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Follower_of_Lucas_Cranach_(II)_-_Jesus_Christ_and_the_woman_taken_in_adultery.jpg

Today’s Noontime is adapted from a reflection written on March 29, 2011.

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Third Sunday of Lent, March 7, 2021

forgivenessAmos 2

Oracles

Moab, Judah, Israel. Oracles of condemnation not only of enemies . . . but of Israel herself. Atrocities during wartime, horrible scenes of brutality beyond understanding, humanitarian abuses, corruption in places that are meant to be havens. All of these images are difficult to read and even more difficult to comprehend.

God says: You are far too eager to look for scapegoats and for places to place blame for the woes of the world. What I really ask is that you put violence aside and deal with one another lovingly, even as enemies. What good comes from harboring anger? What fruit is born from bitter seed sown in despair? What peace to do you find by dragging your worries along with you each day. It is no wonder that the night brings you no rest. Spend time with me. Speak to me frankly, openly and honestly. Tell me what is bothering you.  Tell me what stirs you. Tell me when you are ready to surrender to me. I wait – for an eternity – with forgiving, open, strong and loving arms.

Even the smallest gesture of goodness is a light in the darkness. God pulls good out of all harm. We must be patient enough to see it, humble enough to feel it, and bold enough to share our stories of conversion with those who still live in the shadows. As we move through our Lenten journey, let us decide to move away from condemnation and toward mercy and kindness.

Tomorrow, First Word.


Image from: http://doctorjenn.com/wordpress/tag/forgiveness/

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

We re-post this reflection written in 2014 in union with those who stand up for personal and communal freedom justice on every continent. The human race seems determined to create chaos rather than unity. Let us come together with all those who seek the common good. And let us pray not only for the oppressed but also for those who commit acts of oppression. 

A Prayer to Nourish Us Here and Now

Matthew records the words Jesus speaks to those who gather round him when he describes the kingdom of God in the Beatitudes, the new Law of Love that supersedes the law of the Torah and Moses. We have spent much time this week reflecting on the Interior Law placed within each of us at our inception.  This law flourishes in faith, grows in hope and acts in love. And so we pray, we look for strength as we build God’s kingdom.

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

You have heard it said, an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Around the planet the peoples of the world constantly look for answers to difficult questions; they consistently yearn for security and peace; they continually hunger for the words that Jesus speaks in his Sermon on the Mount. And so we pray, we look for courage as we build God’s kingdom.

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.

In Ukraine the people struggle to find leadership that is free of corruption.  And so we pray, we look for integrity as we build God’s kingdom.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.

In South Sudan the people struggle to live a life without fear. And so we pray, we look for justice as we build God’s kingdom.

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two.

In Thailand the people fight over who will bring them into the light.  And so we pray, we look for truth as we build God’s kingdom.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.

In Venezuela the people fight over how they will share the power of leadership.  And so we pray, we look for peace as we build God’s kingdom.

You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

In West Virginia, USA the people ask for answers to dark questions.  And so we pray, we look for compassion as we build God’s kingdom.

If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

In our own home town the people ask for honesty and justice.  And so we pray, we look for love as we build God’s kingdom.

We are not much different from those people who listened to Jesus two thousand years ago; we too, hunger for security, healing, truth, forgiveness and redemption.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And so we pray, we look for endurance as we build God’s kingdom.

National Geographic News: West Virginia's Chemical Valley

National Geographic News: West Virginia’s Chemical Valley

The perfection God asks of us lies not in our living a life without mishap; rather, it lies in our persistence to return to the Law of Love no matter how far we stray. The kingdom Jesus describes is not in some distant future when all God’s children have suddenly seen and corrected the errors in their lives.  The kingdom of God is here and it is now.  God’s forgiveness and mercy are here and now.  God’s healing and presence are here and now. God’s compassion and love are here and now. Let us take strength from the one who created us, take heart from the one who accompanies us, and peace from the one who dwells within us. Amen.


To learn more about the stories shared in this prayer, click on the images above or go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/ukraine-protests/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25677297, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-thailand-protest-idUSBREA0B03C20140114, http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Activists_say_five_Venezuela_protesters_injured_by_gunshots.html?cid=37945644, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140116-chemical-valley-west-virginia-chemical-spill-coal/ 

For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the word Vengeance into the blog search bar and explore.

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Second Sunday in Lent, February 28, 2021

Psalm 94psalm-94-18-19[1]

Our Interior Law – Part IV

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We ask for wisdom so that we might discern your law that lives within each of us.

Blessed the one whom you instruct, O Lord, whom by your law you teach, giving them rest from evil days. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for peace in our turbulent days so that we must rest with you as we move through our days.

For the Lord will not cast off God’s people, nor abandon God’s inheritance; but judgment will be with justice, and all the upright of heart will follow it. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for integrity and uprightness so that we might live out the Gospel as Jesus teaches us.

When I say, “My foot is slipping,” your mercy, O Lord, sustains me; when cares abound within me, your comfort gladdens my soul. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for compassion and forgiveness so that we might live the love the Spirit inspires in each of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We tap into our interior law, knowing that it always leads us in the best direction, understanding that it flourishes at the best of God’s time, and believing that it nourishes and sustains each of us and all of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

Jesus says, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend?  Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”  They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”  (Mark 8:17-21)

God’s love is far greater than we can imagine and far more durable than we can believe.  And this is God’s law of love.  There is always love in abundance . . . forever. Blessed are those who see and hear. Blessed are those who allow God to soften hearts. Blessed are those who believe that God’s law lives within.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.


Image from: http://shareaverse.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/comfort-3/psalm-94-18-19/ 

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

12-lamedh[2]Psalm 119:89-96

Lamedh

Your word, Lord, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens . . . Had your teachings not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction . . . I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your command is without bounds.

There is no true perfection but God’s and so the flawlessness God asks of us is that we persist in following the Law of Love. Our own perfection lies not in our living life without error, but in our determined turning to God in all things.

God says: Do not tax yourself with the millions of details that fill your day. This is not where true perfection lies. Do not punish yourself for the slips you make along life’s path. The pain of those errors is punishment enough. Do not expect that you will live a life without fault. What I ask is that you always turn and return to me. And then I ask that you forgive one another as I have forgiven you . . . no matter how difficult this may be. In your willingness to attempt this following of my Law of Love . . . in this lies your perfection.

We need not create a world of guilt for ourselves and others. When we read the many parables through which Jesus still teaches us today, we understand that God is always willing to love us no matter how grave our error, and that we are asked to extend this same forgiveness to others.

Peter asks Jesus: Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times? Jesus answers: I say to you not seven times but seventy-seven times.  (Matthew 18:21-22)


To learn more about the letter Lamedh, perfection, and the contemplation of the heart, click on the image above, or go to: http://ascribelog.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/limited-perfection-psalm-119-lamedh/ or http://www.inner.org/hebleter/lamed.htm

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

david repent[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part IV

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 

The separation from society when murder is arranged and enacted is evident. Yet what we often fail to see is the damage which occurs to the murderer, the arranger. This man or woman who either commits the act, causes or arranges the act is in such a place of darkness and of self-importance that the light does not penetrate. And the fact that lust, adultery and murder are here so closely entwined is an important one. Lust which is acted upon is a kind of murder, both of self and of the other.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

David serves as a wonderful model of how those who are blessed with amazing gifts are not immune from suffering.  David ennobles himself through his pain by admitting guilt and repenting.  David turns back to Yahweh. David and is forgiven and loved by Yahweh . . . eternally.

We might allow our pain to transform us into wounded healers. We might return to ask forgiveness. We might ennoble ourselves through the admission of guilt.  e might turn back and repent for we, like David, are always and forever loved by God.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

For a blog posting on David’s faith, click on the image above or go to: http://dreamsalongtheway.blogspot.com/p/sermon-series-man-who-would-be-king.html

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Saturday, October 17, 2020Grace_wordle[1]Psalm 32

Overwhelmed by Grace

The second of the penitential psalms “is a joyous testimony of gratitude for God’s gift of forgiveness for those who confess their sins and follow the law of God. Instead of constantly pondering their sins, believers acknowledge their wretchedness before God and accept forgiveness and reconciliation. Their torment ceases, and a new person is born, overwhelmed by grace, confidence, and a sense of obedience.

“In praying the psalm, we can focus not only on the happiness resulting from the forgiveness of particular sin, but also on the more profound happiness obtained by the complete victory given us by God in Christ over sin in all forms”.  (Psalms 86)

We too often emphasize all that is wrong with the world, our community, our colleagues and even our friends, family and self. Today’s reading invites us to accept the knowledge that we are not perfect, to ask forgiveness for the times we have wronged self and others, to graciously accept the pardon we receive, and to allow God’s grace, joy and peace to bring us profound happiness. This deep and lasting contentment is the gift of complete victory we are free to reject or receive.

And so we pray . . .

Forgiving and unifying God, we lay all our imperfections in your hands.

Grant us this day the complete victory of your love as we come to you in truth.

Give us the confidence we need to believe that your love has the power to bring joy out of suffering.

Inspire in us such love for you that our obedience is a source of delight rather than a burden to shoulder.

Move in us a spirit of reconciliation that surmounts all fears, calms all anxieties, and heals all wounds.

Bring us your profound happiness that heals, binds, unifies and transforms.

Grant us your lasting gift of overwhelming grace that seeps into the bone, calms the heart, and warms the troubled soul. 

We ask this as we ask all things through  your son, Jesus Christ. Amen. 


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 86. Print.

For a sermon on Grace: The Verb, click on the image above or go to: http://ssje.org/ssje/2010/03/09/grace-the-verb-br-mark-brown/

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