10 lepers were healed by Jesus and delivered from their horrible illness by his divine power. Only one came back to say thanks – a foreigner – and his example inspires us to practice gratitude for the moments of grace we receive throughout our daily lives.
James & John are offended by a Samaritan village and threaten to call down fire from Heaven. Jesus rebukes them, reminding us all that when we feel injured or offended to look to the Cross and see God’s solution to our human sin.
It’s non-negotiable. Forgiveness is a key ingredient in the Christian life and without it we cannot receive the grace that the Lord lavishes upon us. Who do we need to forgive? To whom do we need to ask for forgiveness? May we call upon God’s grace for the strength we need to be people who put forgiveness into practice.
How many times throughout our lives have we made the sign of the Cross? Stop and think: at Mass; meal prayers; morning & evening prayers; special gatherings; and moments of blessing and grace. This simple action, which we teach to children at an early age, invokes a connection with the passion of Jesus.
We adorn our homes with the Cross. A crucifix is a common gift to a new home; they are placed in bedrooms and common areas as a reminder that Jesus is the source of our help and strength.
We adorn ourselves with the Cross in many ways: a crucifix on a chain; a cross in our pocket; earrings; rings; bracelets; and all the extra cards, bookmarks, figurines, and miscellaneous items that remind us that Jesus died on a Cross.
The Paschal Mystery – the death and resurrection of Christ – speaks to the heart of our faith. Out of love for us God sent Jesus, who gave his life on the Cross that we might have eternal life. Through his suffering and death, we recognize that God has made a pathway possible that we might all journey through this life to the gates of Heaven.
The Cross teaches us many lessons:
* Life is difficult, and at times painful
* Weakness and sin are part of our experience
* God identifies with our pain
* God dies that we might have life
At the core of our teaching the Cross stands as the testament of God’s love for us. On one hand the Cross is an embarrassment – after all, why would God (all powerful, all knowing, supreme) choose to be humiliated? Does that not mean that God is weak? Why could God not take away our sins in a way that showed majesty and splendor?
Yet on the other hand, the Cross is a statement that God meets us where we are in life. In our weakness, in our humiliation, in our low moments of doubt and sin God comes to us. Jesus, like us in every way but sin, understands our pain because through his Cross he shares in the suffering of the world. He knows us, and loves us even more.
Every time we make the sign of the Cross may we recall what the Lord endured for us. May the Cross be our strength as we trust in God’s love, and may we seek to follow that love as we journey through this life toward the world to come.
Let’s take a quick look at a sketch of the readings:
1st Reading – Forgive your neighbor, so that the Lord will forgive you
Psalm – “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.”
2nd Reading – We live and die for the Lord
Gospel – We forgive others, just as our Father forgives us
On one hand the teaching is simple: if you want to be forgiven by God, start forgiving one another. It’s sound logic and makes complete sense…until you have something hard to forgive. Perhaps we have felt slighted or neglected, been hurt or experienced disappointment. Maybe we just don’t understand, or maybe we are choosing to interpret a situation in its worst possible light.
Forgiveness is the practical dimension of Christian love. After all, it’s easy to love people when we are comfortable, rested, calm and free of all distractions. The real test of our love happens when we can forgive one another in the light of Jesus Christ.
The Lord offers us the teaching of forgiveness with clarity and conviction. There is no middle ground. We forgive one another if we expect God to forgive us of our own sins. We forgive, knowing that we all stand in need of God’s forgiveness, so that by unlocking the gates of our hearts through forgiveness we can stand before the Lord ready to receive the grace of his mercy.
Two thoughts then emerge today:
Who do I need to forgive?
To whom do I need to apologize and ask for forgiveness?
May the Lord inspire us to be people of forgiveness as we practice his teaching and follow his example.