March 26 - Forgiveness
Mar 25, 2019
Scriptures: I spoke to the Confirmation students this weekend about how God's great plan is hard for us to see down here on earth, because we are often to "zoomed in" on our particular time and place. It has always been so for humanity. Daniel cries out to the Lord in lament because the promised eternal kingdom of David is exiled to Babylon. He sees this a divine punishment that prevents them from "properly" worshiping God as laid out by the law of Moses. Daniel was languishing in this "national punishment" because his faith, hope, and love of the Lord was so great. Yes, Israel was unfaithful to God and the Lord allowed them to be conquered and exiled. However it was through this test that those exiled generations were forced to live by the Holy Spirit, with the Law in the heart, and genuine love for God and neighbor. What to them looked like punishment was in fact a foreshadowing of the way that leads to eternal life. If you read the blog yesterday, I wrote about how those practices that Daniel yearns to restore were never intended to pass beyond Jesus' fulfillment of that same law. How often do we look at our trials in there duration and see the burden, but in retrospect bless the Lord for the merited lesson? We should learn to praise the Lord for all of our trials, because the God of Love only allows them to occur because, although they cost us, the cost is redeemed in the foreshadowed glory where all things are made right in Christ.
Core Principle of Faith: Again following up on yesterday's blog, I'd like to address the Gospel message of today which is about forgiveness. If we take the Lord's teaching seriously, if we take the Church's teaching seriously, the most devoted Catholic practitioner will be forgiven sins several times a day. Our instinct is to say, "That's obsessive" or to take offense that we should ever need so much. But I dare you to stop that line of thought and consider the generosity of God who understands our perpetual weakness and wants us never to unnecessarily bear the weight of that same weakness in shame or self-hatred. Sure, our church teaches us that we should hate sin and strive toward perfection. Sure we should not favor our weakness but in virtue try to strengthen our weakest points. However, God's perpetual gift of forgiveness and Divine Mercy is what allows us not to spend our Christian Life in fear and avoidance of sin, but rather to live that life with a bold love for God, our neighbor, and the gift of our being that God gave us (making that gift perfect by constantly subjecting its imperfections to the gentle corrections of mercy). The law, the rules, aren't what made Daniel such a wonderful person. It was his great love for God and his people. Imagine a child comes home from school and hands you a recent test they took in school, outraged that he received an "F." The boy protests, "I didn't get anything wrong! How dare my teacher give me an F!" As you look at the test, you see that the child didn't answer any of the questions, "Yes, but you didn't get anything correct either." Let's not focus so hard on trying to NOT to get things wrong, but loving the right answers so much they are hard to be apart from us when it is time to give answer in the final test.
Living this at Home: How is forgiveness practiced in your house? Every time I read of Peter's bafflement at Jesus' answer of how many times we should forgive, I give a small chuckle. Not to mock the great saint, but because God blessed me with the spirit of understanding that makes Jesus' answers seem as natural as if Jesus told Peter the sun was bright in the sky. What parent counts the sins of their children? Do we carry a spreadsheet around with us of every temper tantrum, back talk, uneaten vegetable, lie, and disobedience. Though children under 8 aren't really culpable for any sins, it doesn't mean that 4 year old is not ignoring you on purpose! Just because they aren't morally culpable, it does not mean that we don't teach them discipline and virtue (Time outs, gentle corrections, reinforcements of good behavior). Do we love our kids less because they are imperfectly behaved? (Maybe temporarily, J/k). The reality is, that we don't. Why would God look at us any differently. It is very important to remember a parent's love when presenting ourselves to the Sacramental of Reconciliation, where how many times do parents say, "I wish you would just tell me the truth, tell me what you did, and we'll work it out." And thus God asks you to do the same. Teach your children to forgive and practice what you teach. Teach your children to be peacemakers for they shall be called sons (and daughters) of God.