Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday with Fr. Mike: Balancing Justice with Mercy

First and to Homily...enjoy!  Then come on back....

For those you who weren’t able to hear the reading this past Sunday or those who might not be Catholic…let me give you the quick version!

The 1st Reading is from Sirach 27:30-28:7….it is short so hear it is in full….pretty awesome!

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor's injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.

The 2nd Reading is from Romans 14:7-9…most important message is

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

The Gospel is from Matthew 18:21-35

So Peter asks Jesus…how many times do I forgive someone…7 times. And Jesus….77 times and goes on to tell him the story of a master and his servant. The servant was in great debt to the master and after begging for more time to pay, the master forgave his debt. Then the same servant went to his servant, who was also in debt, but refused to forgive his servants debt, instead he put him in prison. At hearing this, the master says….
'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’

To start…when I heard these readings on Sunday, obviously before hearing Fr. Mike’s Homily, I was floored by how they landed perfectly on 9-11’s 10th Anniversary. The order of readings was chosen YEARS AND YEARS before 9-11 even occurred…Coincidence…I think not! I love when God’s word really hits home but this was right on. In remembering one of the most horrific days in our country’s history, God reveals His word to us and says…I am here…I feel your pain…you will get through this because you are mine. Awesome!

Isn’t forgiveness so hard sometimes? It is not our first reaction when someone hurts us…someone does wrong to us…5 minutes later…all roses and teddy bears. No! And Fr. Mike is saying this is okay! I made the mistake of listening to his Homily before going to bed. Would not recommend it…was up so long thinking! But I love that it made me really think!

Two things kept revolving as I tried to go to sleep. One…why is it easier to forgive some and not others? Two…why is it so hard to forgive people when they don’t know they even hurt you?

For example….I can forgive my family, my husband immediately…and I mean really forgive them. Obviously with my family (my parents and sisters), there really is no drama or things to forgive on a regular basis…but if something is said that hurts my feelings or something is done that effects me…there really is no thought what-so-ever in forgiving it….it is just what you do. Same with my husband…yes…I get really mad or upset or extremely hurt by him sometimes…but it is never something that is worth holding on to, something worth dwelling upon…which brings me to my second thought. Why is it worth dwelling upon hurts with others? Or even more…why is it worth holding onto hurt when the person doesn’t even realize they hurt you? Aren’t we really only hurting ourselves in doing this?

I loved the whole idea Fr. Mike talked about in that by forgiving, we are first acknowledging that this person owes us something…they hurt us and darn it…they should suffer for it…justice. Forgiving is acknowlendging that we are hurting because of someone else and making the choice to release them and essentially freeing yourself...mercy!

I struggle with this. It all sounds great..right? Don’t we all want to be freed from hurt but don’t we all want that person that hurt us to acknowledge their wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness? What if they never ask, should we never forgive them? I think this is where forgiveness is the hardest.

I have a friend and we were having a conversation one day. Within the conversation, something was said that totally ripped my heartstrings…I mean ouch! In no way was she saying these things to cause this…but it happened. It has been really hard for me to forgive and forget this. I think it is so hard because she has NO IDEA that it hurt me…so I try to pretend it never happened which causes so much more hurt inside. For this particular situation…I need to free myself and forgive and Fr. Mike gives us great ways to achieve this forgiveness.

First, go to confession. But, confession is for us to be forgiven of our own sin, not to talk about the sins that we need to forgive. But he makes two great points! When someone sins against us, we may have played a part….so we really need to examine ourselves too when someone hurts us. And also that confession is freeing..Yes it is… and talking about our hurts might in fact help to forgive! Now I know everyone reading doesn’t go to confession…maybe have a heart to heart with God then in your prayer….instead of just being thankful or asking…really be honest with yourself and Him in how something is effecting you. Maybe even talk out loud to Him about the issues in forgiveness you are having…that always helps me!

Second, talk to the person who hurt you. I struggle with this one, big time. I like to avoid drama…especially when the other person doesn’t realize I have been hurt…I don’t want to hurt someone else by talking about how they hurt me. If every time we were hurt, we went to the person, talked about what happened and all was perfect afterwards…then I would have no problem…but all too often this is not the case. No one wants to hear that they hurt someone else…but it is an important part of forgiveness!

But the 3rd thing is what I love the most…and I think in my own life, this will be very effective! Write down what has hurt you…every little thing. Get it out there, on paper, so you can see it…embrace how you feel, what has happened, the hurt that was caused…”here is what you owe me for hurting me” and DECIDE not to collect! Forgive! Make the freeing decision to destroy the hurt!
I hope you all enjoyed Fr. Mike’s Homily today and were able to apply some of his awesome advice to your own life!

…See you next week!

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