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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Heavenly Forgiveness

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Ecclesiasticus 27:30–28:7 • Psalm 102(103):1–4, 9–12 • Romans 14:7–9 • Matthew 18:21–35

Forgive from the HeartC.S. Lewis was right on the button when he said, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”   We pray at every Mass: ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”  Yet, when sinned against by a brother or sister, husband or wife, friend or foe, how ready are we to forgive? And how do we forgive? Reluctantly and resentfully, or readily, from the heart?

When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive, proposing the generous offer of ‘as many as seven times’, he was really trying to set a limit – to see how few times he could forgive and get away with it!  Jesus responded with a number which was not really a number! “Seventy-seven times” (or “seventy times seven”) signified a countless number.  Again we turn to CS. Lewis, who explained: “We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offence and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not only for 490 offences but for one offence.”

As often as the sense of grievance rises hot and strong within us, Jesus challenges us to forgive.  And this forgiving is not so much about forgetting as about remembering without bitterness or acrimony in our hearts.  Jesus speaks in the context of relationships within the church family.  The closer a relationship, the more frequently and more heavily we tend to tread on one another’s toes. Our deepest hurts are not usually inflicted by our worst enemy, but by our nearest and dearest, those close to us — our friends / relatives / work colleagues.

The servant in Jesus’s parable owed 10,000 talents – this figure combines the largest Greek numeral with the largest unit of currency.  Here is not merely a daunting debt, but one that could never be repaid.  God offers us unlimited grace and inexhaustible forgiveness beyond measure, beyond our wildest dreams.  But hands clenched in unforgiving anger can neither appropriate nor appreciate this gift.  Forgiveness extended to a brother or sister is inextricably linked with the forgiveness received from our Heavenly Father.  Jesus modelled unconditional and unlimited forgiveness as he hung on the cross, not only forgiving, but also pleading for the Father’s forgiveness for those who put him there.

Heavenly Father, show me that to err is only too human, but to forgive is truly to imitate the divine.

Chris

 
Graphic from https://www.stpeterstettler.ca/looking-ahead-scripture-readings-for-sept-13-2020/
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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . .

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Matthew 11:28-30
 
Girl pulling a heavy bag towards the Cross
 
Jesus will never abandon us. He knows our lives are demanding and fretful, fraught with anxieties about work, housing, relationships and money, and that we may have difficulty absorbing the nourishment of prayer, Scripture and the sacraments.

People can be like pieces of elastic: stretched to their utmost. limits one day, in a state of. collapse the next. Jesus" ‘yoke’ is a whole way of life, discipleship and relationship with him. He demands of us willing service to the gospel, but rewards us with friendship and love. Our part of the bargain is a twofold pledge: to model our lives on his, and to enter wholeheartedly into a relationship with him.

The image of the yoke calls to mind two oxen pulling along side by side, in step with one another. Jesus walks beside us if we invite him into the rhythm of our lives. Sharing our burden, he befriends us on the journey and invites us to rest with him at close of day. Discipleship and trust are key qualities needed. Enthusiasm for the Lord can see us through the ups and downs of life, focusing us and filling us with the light of his grace.

The conviction that Jesus is beside us can calm our fears and encourage us to take the spiritual rest that we all need for a healthy and balanced life on this frenetically active planet.

Lord may I always be aware of you beside me, not lifting but sharing my burdens and helping me to bear with joy the yoke of discipleship

 
Chris
 
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Christ the High Priest (Feast of the Lord)

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Matthew 26:36–42
 
Icon of Christ the Great High Priest
 
 
 
A profound mystery of our faith is that through baptism we receive the threefold ministery of Jesus: priest, prophet and king.  This amazing truth should affect our lives every day.  We have a share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly ministry of Jesus Christ!
 
Key to deepening our grasp of the High Priestly ministry of Jesus is understanding his sacrifice on the cross.  Jesus is both priest and victim.  "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through shedding of his blood" (Rom. 3:25 NIV), and he "offered for all time one sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 10:12 NIV).  By his death Jesus atoned for every sin that has ever been committed on this earth.
 
The light of revelation shows us that in Jesus we have a Great High Priest who is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  In him we have One who identifies with our weakness and temptations because he has been tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.  Therefore we can approach God's throne of grace with freedom and confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy.
 
We tend to think when we are tempted that God is far away, but this isn't true: God draws close when we are suffering.  His grace gives us the strength to resist temptation and, should we fall, to repent and receive his mercy.
 
Heavenly Father, I thank you that through baptism I have a share in the priestly ministry of Jesus, our Great High Priest.
 
Chris
 
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Our Father

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Matthew 6:7–15
 
Our Father by Jesus on sunrise
 
We address God as ‘Father’ – as ‘Abba’ in Aramaic.  This was unthinkable, even abhorrent, for a faithful Jew in Jesus’s day.
 
Only Jesus could cross the threshold of divne holiness, for by his cross and resurrection he made purification for our sins and brought us into the Father’s presence.
 
How comforting and consoling are these words from the writer of the Hebrews, in which Christ says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me” (2:13).
 
The Holy Spirit works to stretch and expand our hearts and minds so that they can grasp the amazing truth that we are children of the Father, sons and daughters of the Living God.
 
We who call God ‘Our Father’ because he is Our Father in heaven.  We don’t approach him lightly or nonchalantly or irreverently but in profound wonder that we are privileged to know God, the Creator, as a father who loves and cares for us.
 
”Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry, “Abba Father!"
 
‘When would a mortal dare call God “Father” if our innermost being were not animated by power from on high?’ (St Peter Chrysologus)
 
Chris
 
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The Good News

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Mark 1:14-20
 
From the beginning of Mark’s Gospel we are introduced to the ideas of repentance, belief and good news.
 
The gospel, literally “good news”, is that God became man to save and resuce us because we could not save ourselves from sin, death and the power of evil.
 
The Good News is that God loves us and revealed that love to us by sending Jesus, his only son and the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, to die on the cross and to rise again on the third day.
 
The Good News is that our sins are forgiven, our lives are wiped clean by the blood of Jesus, and we are reconciled with God the Father, restored as his sons and daughters, blessed with a new dignity, purpose and hope.
 
The Good News is that we have received the Holy Spirit; we are a new creation.
 
Lord, teach me to be a witness of your grace and of the joy of heartfelt repentance, and in turn lead others to know deeply and personally your mercy and forgiveness.
 
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Come to me, all you who are weary or burdened, and I will give you rest

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Matthew 11:28-30
 
Jesus invites us to lay down our burdens and come to him for rest.
 
We create many of our own burdens when we are imprisoned in fear, resentment, anger and anxiety.  The teaching of Jesus and his new law of love offers another kind of wisdom for life, and offers freedom from our own bondage.
 
His healing presence in the Sacrament of Reconciliation softens our inner reactions and gives us peace and hope.  When we come to Jesus in the Eucharist he gives himself as heavenly food that satisfies the deepest hungers of our heart.
 
We learn to be united to Jesus and to be like him in his gentleness and humility.  Coming to Jesus refreshes our hearts and makes them like his.
 
Lord Jesus, attract me to yourself.  Teach me to be still before you, to look upon your gentle, humble face.
 
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Signs of the Times

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Luke 12:54-59
 
What are the signs of the times today?  How do we know that God is living and active among us?  
 
The election of Pope Francis is a sign of the times, certainly: his love for the poor, his refusal to accept or mbrance many of the élitist trappings of his office; his passion for the simple Gospel message; and his love for God and for Jesus.
 
Another sign of the times is the rise of new spiritual movements.  The Holy Spirit is at work in our midst.  The signs of the world are ever apparent and we do well to note them also: the rise of militant atheism, materialism, fascism and moral relativism.
 
One of the great prophets of the modern world was St Pope Paul VI.  He wrote, “The split between the Gospel and the culture is without doubt the drama of our time, just as it was of other times.  Therefore every effort must be made to ensure a full evangelisation of culture, or more correctly of cultures.  The have to be regenerated by an encounter with the Gospel.  But this encounter will not take place if the Gospel is not proclaimed.”  (Evanglii nuntiandi 20).
 
Lord God, you gave courage to the Holy Martyrs.  Grant us the grace to seek to understand the signs of our times and always to be prepared to share with others the reason for our hope in Christ.
 
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"Whoever acknowledges me before men . . ."

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Luke 12:8-12
 
Today, in the here and now, it takes a certain courage to stand up for our faith.  It is easier on one level to stand up for Christian values and ethics.  People often talk about the Catholic or the Christian ethos as if simply speaking in these broad terms says as much as is needed about who we are as believers.  But what if someone asked, “What part does Jesus play in that ethos?”  Would that question be met with embarrassed silence?
 
St Ignatius of Antioch said, “Don’t just be known for being a Christian, but for living as one.”  Pope Paul VI put it like this, “For witness, no matter how excellent, will ultimately prove ineffective unless its meaning is clarified and corroborated.” – what Peter described as accounting for the ‘hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).  
 
Pope Paul VI went on to say, “The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life.  There is no true evangelisation if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed.” (Evangelii nuntiandi 22)
 
 
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The Deep End – Love One Another

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‘Love one another’ is the basic principle of Christianity, as Jesus loved. It is simple, yet we can make it so complicated.

Jesus’s love was controversial for some people, because it was love without exclusion. To love as Jesus loved is to love those it is hard to love. This love ultimately leads to Jesus’ death. Jesus loved sinners, tax-collectors, prostitutes, people of other religions, the poor, the unwanted, the sick, the beggar and the leper.

This is is also too much for some Christians today. It is hard to love sinners or fanily members or friends who have hurt us. Yet this is the love we are called to. Once we begin to accept that we are infinitely loved by God, it is like a domino effect where that love is poured outwards in our lives.

We are part of this outpouring of God’s creative love and are called to bring it into places where there is none. In this way we are helping to heal, sustain and nourish ths world.

Let us hear those words of the Gospel more clearly today. ’Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this everone will know that you are one of my disciples.’

Let us dream of, and work towards, a world where this is a reality.

Jane Mellett.

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