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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’


Sirach 27:30-28:7: Limitless 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jan Van Hemessen: The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Once we begin to enact our own shepherd parable, we will want to keep in constant touch with the healer, guide and protector who calls us. We will need to put aside our negative thoughts and emotions. And we will need to be open to the positive flow of goodness the Shepherd bestows on us.

From last Sunday’s readings (24th Sunday in Ordinary time) we find words of wisdom. Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The sins we commit are our many or few big and little separations from God more than a list of specific immoralities. Could anyone refuse mercy to another and expect healing from the LORD? Fortunately for us, the Shepherd forgives endlessly and so we too must practice giving the gift of forgiveness to those who harm us. Sirach describes how we must step away from our dual, black-and-white perspective to open ourselves to the broad, generous arms and heart of the Shepherd.

Claude Vignon: Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells his disciples – and he tells us today – that we must forgive endlessly, just as we are forgiven. “I say to you, not seven times seven but seventy-seven times”. Scholars tell us the number 7 is special in scriptural context. It’s special meaning implies a sense of completion or even perfection. Knowing this, we might ask, how much is seventy-seven times, and who among us counts each word of forgiveness as we dole it out to others? Far better, Jesus tells us, when we listen to the lesson of the unforgiving servant, that we forgive others endlessly from our hearts.

Today we reflect on these verses and gather strength to live out our shepherding parable with forgiveness that is more than seven times seven. With forgiveness that is an infinite seventy-seven times.

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Colossians 1:21-27: True Wisdom

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Cathedral of St. Peter Claver in Cartagena, Colombia

Brother and sisters: You once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds; God has now reconciled you. God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (NRSV)

We sometimes read familiar verses quickly, thinking that we have felt their full impact and heard their divine wisdom. When we pause to consider singular words or phrases, and when we read varying translations, we open ourselves to their beauty and power. Last week was the feast day of St. Peter Claver when this citation was part of Morning Prayer; yet for some reason this portion of Colossians has stayed with me.

God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. (GNT)

St. Peter Claver

Peter Claver (1581-1654), born in Spain, traveled to the New World and landed in Cartagena – today located in Colombia – to begin his ministry to slaves brought to South America. Entering the holds of ships when they arrived in the harbor, Peter Claver managed the juxtaposition of wealthy slave traders with the plight of those they enslaved. Knowing that he could not possibly change the structures encouraging this lucrative trade, Claver moved forward to answer God’s call as he attended those in need. We might take a lesson from this young man who learned how to live a life of paradox. We might gain this divine, true wisdom of forgiveness, fidelity and love.

And the secret is this: the Messiah is united with you people! In that rests your hope of glory! (CJB)

Writing from jail, Paul tells the Colossians that despite his imprisonment, he is cheerful. As we read these verses, we realize that despite any evil we have committed, God forgives us when we are willing to put aside any harm we do so that we might return to God’s goodness. We understand that evil exists alongside goodness. We begin to appreciate the secret of true wisdom that brings goodness out of all harm.

The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. 

That is the substance of God’s plan. That is the substance of true Wisdom. Let us enjoy this gift today.

We can read more about the remarkable Peter Claver at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/16th-and-17th-century-ignatian-voices/st-peter-claver-sj

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Colossians 3:12-14: Chosen

Thursday, September 14, 2017

We may well want to consider how we react to the news that we are chosen loved ones.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Do we step ahead quickly to shove our way forward in response to God’s call? Or do we tend to those along the margins who cannot find a way into the unifying force of God’s hope?

Bear with one another . . .

Do we follow Christ in fits and starts? Or do we move constantly and slowly forward, always remaining faithful in reflection of God’s fidelity?

If anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other . . .

Do we greet one another with greed or compassion? Anger or mercy? Chaos or peace?

Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Do we welcome the stranger, speak out against injustice, console the sorrowful, and heal the sick?

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Do we work for reconciliation? Do we open our eyes, ears, hearts, hands and minds? Do we act as if we are chosen in God’s humble love?

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we find that being chosen is more than we have first thought.

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John 8:1-11: Contemplating God’s Mercy

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“God is a riverbed of mercy that underlies all the flotsam and jetsam that flows over it and soon passes away. It is vast, silent, restful, and resourceful, and it receives and also releases all the comings and goings. It is awareness itself (as opposed to judgement), and awareness is not the same as ‘thinking’. It refuses to be pulled into the emotional and mental tugs-of-war that form most of human life. To look out from this untouchable silence is what we mean by contemplation”. (Rohr 187)

Richard Rohr, OFM, tells us that if there is one characteristic to assign to God, it is mercy. This life-giving quality of forgiveness, fidelity, and love is God’s signature characteristic. Rohr quotes St. Teresa of Ávila from her book THE INTERIOR CASTLE. “The soul is spacious, plentiful, and its amplitude is impossible to exaggerate . . . the sun her radiates to every part . . . and nothing can diminish its beauty”. Rohr continues, “This is your soul. It is God-in-you. This is your True Self”. (Rohr 187)

Pope Francis tells us that THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY in his signature work published in 2016.  He, like Rohr and St. Teresa, reminds us that in order to understand and experience mercy, we must first acknowledge that we are in need of mercy ourselves. Just as Jesus forgives the condemned woman in John 8, God wants to forgive each of us. Just as Jesus does not reproach the woman in John 8, God refuses to reproach each of us. Just as Jesus contemplates the possibility that God’s kingdom is now, God gives us the gift of mercy and insists that the kingdom is here.

“We live in a society that encourages us to discard the habit of recognizing and assuming our responsibilities: It is always others who make mistakes. It is always others who are immoral. It’s always someone else’s fault, never our own”. (Pope Francis, 2)

We live in a place and time when blame and fault are assigned, credit is taken, and deep divisions grow. We live in a place and time when mercy and love are needed, stories are believed, and bridges are built over deep chasms. St. Teresa, Rohr and Pope Francis tell us that God is a riverbed of mercy. They remind us that God’s generosity and love have no bounds. Once we begin to contemplate God as seen through the actions of Jesus, we know all of this to be true. Once we allow God’s Spirit to enter our lives, we allow ourselves to slide into the mighty flow of mercy that washes away all that separates us.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Pope Francis, THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY: A Conversation with Andrea Tornielli

 

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Job 6The Reply of the Innocent

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Favorite from September 6, 2009.job-innocent-suffering-300x225

It is true that sometimes we are completely innocent of any wrongdoing and yet we suffer.  One of the primary questions we ask as human beings is this:  Why is it that things sometimes go so wrong for us and so right for others?  We also ask: What have we done to deserve suffering and how do we cope without falling apart entirely?  Some of us even ask: How long can I go on?  Is life worth living?

Today we hear from Job, the man who suffers through no fault of his own.  His fidelity attracts Satan’s notice and so he becomes an object of play in the devil’s evil game.  Job describes with beautiful metaphors how quickly his friends abandon him, being undependable as a brook, as watercourses that run dry in wadies . . . [they are] caravans [that] turn aside from their routes [to] go into the desert and perish. 

In today’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37) we hear the story of how Jesus opens ears and a throat when he says words that he also says to us: Be open!  In MAGNIFICAT, the mini-reflection for Morning Prayer reads: Jesus opened the ear of the deaf man that he might hear in a new startling way the word of salvation.  What we hear as good news, we proclaim as good news: that is our task as disciples.

How we arrive at not hearing is not important; nor is the question about why we have become silent in our isolation.  What is important is this: That one has come who releases all of us from our bondage – whether these chains have been acquired through our own action or inaction, or whether we are innocent slaves.  One has come to call us to unity, and this one calls to each of us: Be open!

Be open to a surprising newness.  Be open to pardoning and being pardoned.  Be open to miracles in our lives.  Be open to the amazing potential we possess.  Be open to proclaiming the good news that we are free and need not toil futilely.  Be open to the life of discipleship.  Be open to union in Christ, with Christ himself.  Be open . . .

This is easy to hear but difficult to do.  We might turn again to Job who knows the pain of separation . . . and also the joy of reunion.

Whether we suffer in innocence or through our own action or inaction, our reply to the one who created us can be the same.  When we hear the voice that calls, let us all answer:  We are open to the possibility that we might live again!  This is our best human reply to the divine.

And this is the greatest miracle of all . . . that whether we suffer through guilt or whether we are innocent . . . we can all be open to God . . . for we are all sought by God for to each of us he says: Be open!

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 6.9 (2009). Print.  

Click on the image above for more on the suffering of the innocent, or visit: http://www.thelakesanglican.org.au/why-does-god-allow-suffering/ 

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Isaiah 43:20-25: Already Given

Friday, May 27, 2016gift

We ask for good health, security, predictability, fidelity. We look for mercy, wisdom, hope and love. We anticipate salvation, healing, transformation and resurrection. But these gifts we believe we need to acquire have already been generously given.

The beasts of the field will glorify me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people.

When we feel as though the world has let us down, we come to understand that all that we need . . . we already hold.

The people whom I formed for myself will declare my praise.

All that is required of us is that we remain faithful in our gratitude.

I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

All that we need remember is that God wants to forgive and heal. All that is confusion and mystery becomes peace-filled and comforting. All that we seek we already have in abundance. So let us give thanks, for once we begin to practice thankfulness, we also begin to fully experience what the Lord has freely and wonderfully already given.

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John 8:1-11: Adultery

Sunday, March 13, 2016 Jesus_writing_in_sand

Again today we hear a story with familiar characters who give us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. We are accustomed to thinking of adultery as an intimate relationship outside of marriage. In our Lenten journey, the Gospel invites us to consider what other ways we adulterate our lives. We might ask what impurity or weakness have we added to our actions or to our character that moves us away from the hope for the world that God created in us. When we use the scripture link to read other translations of this familiar story, we might listen for the newness that creeps into our understanding of ourselves, others, and of Jesus. Why is it that Jesus does not condemn this woman? Where is the man who accompanied her in this act? Where is the angry crowd? Is the woman guilty? What happens to her after her encounter with Jesus? And what happens to us when we consider all the times we have watered down the goodness and mercy planted in us? When and how have we adulterated our lives?

The religious scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

We ask ourselves. Whom do we most closely resemble, those in the crowd or the one who stands condemned? And can we see ourselves as the forgiving Jesus?

Does no one condemn you? Neither do I. Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.

To learn more about this story, use the scripture link to compare versions, click on the image above or visit: http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.7.Adulterous_woman.htm 

For Aicha el-Wafi and Phyllis Rodriguez’ Ted Talk on forgiveness, click on the image below or go to: https://www.ted.com/talks/9_11_healing_the_mothers_who_found_forgiveness_friendship

For more stories like these, visit The Forgivness Project at: http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/  Consider becoming involved with this or a similar initiative to bring peace to our world and to stem the violence that adulterates our lives.

Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi

Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi

Today we begin this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, missing God.

 

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Matthew 5:17-19: Teaching on the Law, A Reprise

Wednesday, March 2, 2016Kingdom-of-God-570x379

Do we fully understand the depth of Jesus’ words? Do we fully open ourselves to Jesus’ transformation?

Jesus says: Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

Do we fully understand that when we mock creation we mock ourselves? Do we fully open ourselves to the wonders of God’s universe?

Jesus says: Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

God says: You work inordinate hours. You fret over the past and worry about the future. You wriggle through plans that you lay for yourselves. You create rules and parameters that you hope will keep you safe. The Law I speak about is simple indeed – it is the only law the actually keeps you safe. It is the Law of Love. The Law of forgiveness. The Law of generosity and kindness. The Law of healing and comfort. The Law of mercy. Rest in me. Bring your worries to me. Allow my Law of Love to reconcile, restore and rebuild. Allow yourself to step into my kingdom of love.

We continue our Lenten practice as we consider how we might bring others to God’s kingdom of love. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

For another post on these verses, go to:  https://thenoontimes.com/2012/04/06/teaching-on-the-law/

Tomorrow, Beelzebub.

 

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Matthew 18:21-35: The Unforgiving Servant, A Reprise

Tuesday, March 1, 2016immaculee02

We continue our journey of Lenten Gospels and today’s Noontime calls us to reprise a story we have heard many times, but may not have taken in. How do we forgive those who do us horrible damage? How do we move beyond our personal pain and fear? How we forgive endlessly and pray for our enemies? How do we allow God to transform harm into goodness? We might listen to the story told by Immaculée Ilibagiza in LEFT TO TELL: DISCOVERING GOD AMIDST THE RWANDAN HOLOCAUST (2006). The January 2012 Noontimes post gives us a great deal to think about.

For the original post, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/01/17/the-unforgiving-servant/

Visit http.immaculee.com/ to see news interviews and to get a taste of the ideas Immaculée shares with us. 

left to tellAnd we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Tomorrow, the law.

 

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