Daily Reflection for Tuesday March 09 2021
Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners!
About 10 days ago, Bill Bradbury underwent surgery to repair a perforated ulcer. He is recovering well but was not able to prepare a new reflection for today. Thus, we offer you one of his fine past reflections on today’s readings.
We encourage you to read today's scriptures at the following link:
If you prefer to use your own Bible, the references are:
First Reading: Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Responsorial: Psalm 25:4-9
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
Our reflection on Tuesday’s readings:
“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? Matthew 18:21
It was back in 2010, and Margot’s brother had been estranged from his family. Distance and stubborn pride precluded reconciliation. In March 2010, Margot and I went to see him in Mexico. On his turf, we talked . . . and touched . . . and loved. In July 2010, he attended a family gathering . . . and a mutual message emerged: “We want to put the past to rest; we want to be 'whole' together again.” In December 2010, he died.
I recalled all of this while reflecting on today’s gospel on forgiveness. In essence, Jesus says that unless we forgive others as God forgives us, we earn God’s wrath.
But I also recall having practiced “silent forgiveness.” Someone hurts me; I’m angry. I want to forgive them – so I silently think, “I forgive you.” Or I vow to forgive them after they apologize. These gestures may appear to satisfy the “letter of the law,” but they don’t satisfy its Spirit. After all, Jesus’ forgiveness is unconditional . . . and it means going "to where the other person is." It is intimacy . . . talking and touching. It is love.
How far should I go in forgiving others? I found one answer in a story by G. K. Chesterton:
“A man who was entirely careless of spiritual affairs died and went to Hell. His friends missed him. His business agent went down to the gates of Hell to see about getting him out. But though he pleaded for the gates to be opened, the iron bars never yielded. His priest also went and argued, ‘He really wasn’t a bad fellow. Given time he would have matured. Let him out, please!’ The gates remained stubbornly shut against their voices. Finally, his mother came. She did not beg for his release. Softly, and with a catch in her voice, she said to Satan: ‘Let me in.’ The great doors swung open upon their hinges. For love goes down through the gates of Hell and there redeems the dead.”
The man’s mother went through the gates of Hell to reach out to her son – to talk – to touch – to forgive. That’s how far Jesus’ love took him to forgive his crucifiers. His forgiveness was personal – and unconditional. Jesus also went that far to forgive and redeem sinners – “he descended into Hell.” I think that is what it means to forgive from the heart.
As the living Body of Christ, can we not strive to go as far in forgiving those who have hurt us?
Today, how can you and I go farther than we’ve gone before to forgive someone?
May God’s strength and peace be with us, my friends,