FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Tuesday 21st March – Tuesday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 18: 21-35

FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Each time I read through today’s gospel reading I see so clearly, the wickedness of the unforgiving servant. I see a person who could not even simply share the joy, excitement and freedom of being pardoned such a huge debt with a fellow servant by extending the same hand of forgiveness. I often say to myself: “…I can never be so wicked!” But is that completely true? Haven’t there been times when I have acted just the same way? Though I may not have anyone locked up in prison, are there not many people who are locked up in the prison of my heart because they have hurt me in one way or another?

Beloved, it is easy to claim to have forgiven a person who hurt you. The true test of your forgiveness is not what you say, rather it is your attitude to that person each time his name is mentioned in a conversation, or each time you have an opportunity to offer help to him/her. Christ asks us not simply to forgive with our “lips” but from our hearts. If you find yourself retelling the story of how unjust or untrustworthy a person is each time his/her name is mentioned, if you unconsciously keep talking ill of a person, then that is an indication to look into your heart. You may still have the person locked up in the prison of your heart.

Lent is a time to seek reconciliation with God and with our brethren. Lent is a time to examine our hearts and ensure that we are truly keeping in step with our master, Jesus. Examine your unconscious attitudes to those who have offended you in the past and ask the Lord for the grace to truly forgive them from your heart.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for forgiving me each time I come to you. Please pour out your grace into my heart that I may truly extend your perfect forgiveness to those who have hurt me. Amen.

Faith pearls: “For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgement.” James 2:13 RSV-CE

Hide a treasure: YOUCAT 524 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

Today’s readings: Dan 3:25, 34-43; Ps 25:4-9; Mt 18:21-35

MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER

Friday 10th March – Friday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 130: 1-8

MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER

This was the theme for the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in the Church all over the world in 2015/2016. As the church called each one of us to embrace God’s mercy and reconcile with Him, it equally called us to be like our Father in extending mercy and forgiveness to others.

The response to today’s psalm: “If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive?” reminds us that we live by God’s mercy and grace. None of us can truly boast before Him. We make a covenant with Him in Baptism and despite His faithfulness we stumble repeatedly and very often, fall so badly. Yet He does not mark our guilt. Do we have a right to mark the guilt of others then?

When we hear Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant who had his fellow servant thrown in prison because of a debt despite being forgiven a much bigger sum by their master, we may be quick to see how wicked that servant was. Before we criticize him too much, let us look at the mirror of our hearts and recognize all those who guilt we are “marking.” Lent offers us a time to seek mercy and to extend it to others. Let us not let this opportune moment pass us by.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your mercy; please help me to extend your love and forgiveness to others. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 524 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

Hide a Treasure: “If you O Lord should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28; Ps 130: 1-8; Mt 5:20-26

SHARING GOD’S MERCY

Friday 4th March – Friday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Hosea 14: 2-10

SHARING GOD’S MERCY

Do you allow yourself to be hurt over and over by the same person? Do you trust the same person who has constantly hurt you? Do you find it easy to forgive people who have hurt you? It is only natural for our human mind to shield itself from emotional traumas most especially after recovering from one. However, God unlike we humans does not do this, irrespective of the number of times we consciously and unconsciously walk away from His presence. He is ever ready to forgive us due to the unconditional and unlimited love he has for us. It takes true love to be ready to draw nearer to God and likewise our neighbour through forgiveness.

Dear friends, it is of paramount importance that we show love to others by constantly forgiving them, for God does the same for us whenever we stray away from Him. Whenever we pray our Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:12). Since we are all created in God’s image and likeness, we should be willing and ready extend the same mercy He show us to others. To love your neighbour as yourself thus requires that you show love to your neighbour through forgiveness. Forgiveness is truly “love in action”.

PRAYER: Merciful Father, fill my heart with love so I can forgive others as you forgive me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 227Who instituted the sacrament of penance?

Jesus himself instituted the Sacrament of Penance when he showed himself to his apostles on Easter day and he commanded them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; If you retain the sins of any, they are retained”. Jesus forgave sins in the power of the Holy Spirit, and he handed that power on to his apostles. We fall into the arms of our heavenly Father when we go to a Priest and confess.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!” Matthew 5:7 GNB

Today’s Readings: Hosea 4: 2-10; Psalm 81: 6-11,14,17; Mark 12: 28-34

RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

Saturday 27th February – Saturday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the two sacraments of healing in the Church; it obtains pardon from God for the offense committed against Him and by the Priest’s sacramental absolution, God grants the penitent “pardon and peace”. In approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the first step is Interior Penance; recognition of guilt with repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed. Next is a contrite heart; sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again. Then comes the confession of sins to the priest after a diligent self-examination. Lastly, the Satisfaction; is fulfilling the penance given by the priest in order to make amends for the sin.

The Prodigal Son’s process of conversion stems from a recognition of his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, his reflection on all he had lost, a sorrowful heart for what he had done, his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey home. Up to this point he had lived “outside “of himself; now in the language of the Gospel he “enters into himself”, that is, he begins to look inwards and see his true nature.

When he starts back, he finds that the father is out on the roadway ready to welcome him back. Forgiveness meets us more than halfway. The father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The Beautiful robe, the ring and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure, worthy and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of His Family, which is the Church.

Dear Friends, let us take time to reflect and identify areas of our life where we have strayed from God, let us be sorrowful for them and pray for the grace to fully complete our conversion process. Remember, no matter how bad your past might have been, you can always begin anew with God. Today God calls us to conversion; He calls us to journey home.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to remember always that my sins are not greater than your mercy. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1470 – Effects of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Jesus spoke up “healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous” Luke 5:31-32 CCB

Today’s Readings: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20, Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

OUR FATHER’S OPEN ARMS

Saturday 9th January – Saturday after Epiphany

Reflection: 1 John 5: 14-21

OUR FATHER’S OPEN ARMS

Often times, when the subject of sin is discussed, we all have the tendency to feel uneasy. The reason for this is not farfetched; bearing in mind that none of us as human beings is without sin. The Bible reminds us that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, the truth is not in us and we make God a liar (1John 1:8-10). My dear friends, the good news is that as Christians, in as much as the reminder of our sinfulness should humble us and make us sorry for our sins, it should not end with sorrow. Instead, every reminder of our sinfulness is in itself a reminder of our Heavenly Father’s great mercy.

Indeed, the very passage that reminds us of our sinfulness also reminds us that our Father is “faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). However, this reminder goes with the condition that we confess our sins. Today’s reading gives us the biblical root of the Church’s teaching on mortal and venial sins as it differentiates deadly sin from non-deadly sin (1 John 5:16-17). While mortal sins separate us from God, venial sins strain our relationship with God but do not bring a total separation from God. While we can pray on our own and receive forgiveness from venial sins, mortal sins require a sacramental confession before forgiveness can be obtained. (1 John 5:16; John 20:22-23).

Dear young friend, what is that sin that burdens your soul? What is it that makes you feel guilty each time you approach God in prayer? What is it that is keeping you away from the Eucharist – the very source of your strength? Please do not succumb to the devil’s accusation. Your Father is waiting with His arms open wide, not seeking to condemn you, but seeking to welcome you back. Please do not flee from God’s mercy. Make a decision today to approach God through His priest in confession and receive the boundless joy of a life made new.

PRAYER: My loving Father, I thank you for the reminder that you have not given up on me. Please forgive me for the many times I have offended you and give me the courage to approach you in confession. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 236 – Why are priests the only ones who can forgive sins?

No man can forgive sins unless he has a commission from God to do so and the power given by him to ensure that the forgiveness he promises the penitent really takes place. The →BISHOP, in the first place, is appointed to do that and, then, his helpers, the ordained →PRIESTS.

HIDE A TREASURE: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9 RSV-CE

 Readings for today: 1 John 5: 14-21; Psalm 149: 1-6, 9; John 3: 22-30

FINDING PEACE IN FORGIVENESS

Thursday 13th August – Thursday of week 19 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 18:21- 19:1

FINDING PEACE IN FORGIVENESS

One major determinant of peaceful co-existence is ‘forgiveness’. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus indicates what we wish ourselves each time we pray the “Lord’s Prayer”: that when we do not forgive others, we can never receive forgiveness from God in heaven. Where there is no forgiveness, there can never be peace. Little wonder there is a multiplication of chaos, anarchy, and terrorism among other vices in our families, Churches, local communities and the world at large today. These vices are  consequences of unforgiveness.

Beloved, to forgive may be difficult but it is a divine injunction which invokes God’s grace upon us. We can change the world by our personal resolution to do as God has directed us, bearing in mind the extent to which Christ suffered in order to bring us forgiveness. Indeed, more than anything else, Christ’s command to forgive is itself an invitation to share in the life of our Heavenly Father who constantly forgives us.

Is there someone you have sworn never to forgive or have anything to do with because of something bad he did to you? Reflect on Jesus’ words in today’s reading: “…and that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart” (Mt 18:35). Make up your mind today to forgive every hurt that comes your way. One practical way to achieve this is to readily forgive even before you are hurt. Though it may be difficult we can count on God’s grace. He will definitely help us.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please forgive me all my sins and give me the grace as I resolve to make peace with all men by compassionately forgiving those who hurt me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 24 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Forgive your neighbour the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray” Sirach 28:2 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joshua 3: 7-11, 13-17; Psalm 114: 1-6; Matthew 18: 21-19:1

FORGIVENESS BRINGS PEACE

Thursday 9th July- Thursday of week 14 of the year

FORGIVENESS BRINGS PEACE

Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5

Forgiveness to some people’s understanding, is “not returning hate with hate”; for others, it is the inner waiving of a legitimate right to revenge. It however, reaches its peak when no external circumstance is permitted to excuse pardoning others. Joseph had all the power and legitimate right to avenge the evil his brothers did to him, however, he chose to forgive them and offer a helping hand. One of the most beautiful things about forgiveness is that it can evoke love where it never existed and it ultimately gives peace to the one who forgives. Hatred can never conquer hatred, only love can do so (expressed in forgiveness). If someone wrongs you and you react in the same way, the vicious cycle of sin and hatred only continue. Forgiveness has a strong redemptive power.

Our Blessed Lord tells us in Matthew 5:38-48, “do not oppose evil with evil. If one slaps you on one cheek, turn the other…”  This calls us to forsake vengeance, to break the web of violence and wrongdoing. Our Blessed Lord told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. The means of expressing love to enemies comes first through forgiveness and in this act we find peace with ourselves and with God. Vengeance may seem make us happy with ourselves but never does it give us true peace with both man and God.

Dear friends in Christ, forgiveness is of the divine and no one can truly forgive except by the divine aid. Let us daily pray for the grace to forgive as the Lord forgives us our wrongdoings. Remember, in the light of eternal judgement, he who refuses to forgive others breaks down the bridge over which he himself must pass.

Prayer: Lord give me the grace to forgive my brethren as you Lord forgives me and help me understand that it is by forgiving others that I can receive mercy and peace. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC1446 – Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their basptisimal grace and wounded ecclesial communion.

Hide a Treasure: “If you do not forgive others, then your heavenly Father will not forgive you either.” Matthew 6:15

Today’s Reading: Genesis 44: 18-21, 23-29; 45: 1- 5, Psalm 105: 16-21, Matthew 10: 7-15