Faith · Religious life · spirituaility

September 17th – Born to be free

Scripture Reflection . . .

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Sirach 27: 30-28:7

Responsorial Psalm: 103 “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion.”

Second Reading: Romans 14:7-9

Gospel:  Matthew 18:21-35

On September 14th the Church celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. The Gospel of that day proclaimed that “God so loved the world that he sent his only son, not to condemn the world but to save it. John 3:16 is such a popularly cited scripture passage that we might miss how powerful is the message.

Crucifix of our Foundress, Mother Alphonse Maria

The overarching theme of today’s Readings is forgiveness. Rather than forgiving because it is the law we hear in the Gospel the parable of the servant owing a large debt. “Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave the loan.” At the end of the parable Jesus calls us to forgive from our hearts.

The deep desire of God appears to be forgiving out of love and compassion rather than law.  God so loves the world that God came to save not condemn.

Compassion, thus forgiveness, happens when we can allow God to open our mind and heart enough to walk in the shoes of another person. We might not understand why another acts in a hurtful way towards us, but are we willing to see through the actions to the deeper reality of their story?

The King in the parable today was so angry with the dept accumulated by his servant he was about to sell him, his family and his property! However, the king chose to listen to the servant’s story. Perhaps he placed himself in the servant’s situation. What would it be like to be bound by servitude & debt (which is precisely what anger and unforgiveness does to us)?  The king chose instead to free the servant and in turn, himself. Later in the parable we see the king inflict the sentence of torture on this same servant! This may be an exaggerated message to reveal the seriousness of injustice and lack of forgiveness. God is love and God created us to be love and in turn to experience freedom and peace.

The Reading from Romans connects with the blog from last week. We don’t live for ourselves. We are on this journey of life together and if we bind another by our refusal to forgive we bind ourselves as well.

In Our Lives as Sisters of The Holy Redeemer. . .

Sisters and Redeemer Associates gathered for the first Associate meeting since summer. We enjoyed listening to the experiences of the Sisters and Associates who traveled to the Motherhouse in Germany for a special conference on our Charism. For those who did not attend, the sharing, a documentary and pictures allowed us to walk in their shoes – and the shoes of our Foundress, Mother Alphonse Maria. Such a shared experience draws us closer together as a faith community.

During the Funeral Liturgy of one of our Sisters we heard more profoundly the freedom her faith provided her and which allowed her to let go of this life and embrace eternal life. Such hope  and faith also helps us to let her go.

We participated in a local Oktoberfest celebration hosted by an Episcopal and a Catholic Church. The primary purpose of the event was to raise funds to support refugees however it also was about unity. The churches led by example with a blessing of a gateway where once  a fence divided the two church properties. A simple but powerful symbol of welcoming those who are different, reconciliation, and freedom.

In Your Life . . . 

This reflection is not meant to simplify the reality of pain and suffering you may have experienced from the words or actions of another. God has and does walk in our shoes, which may be why Jesus tells Peter he needs to forgive again and again and yet again. It’s not easy.  Each time we can forgive a little more of the hurt, it deepens our compassion and brings us a little more freedom.

This is the amazing contradiction of the cross: death brings life; letting go gains freedom; forgiving frees you!

Peter reached out to Jesus in his struggle to forgive. Is there someone you can reach out to for help in your desire to forgive and be free?

Blessings on your week!