Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Third Tuesday of Lent

"Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." - Mt 18:21-22

Sometimes I catch myself acting like Peter - counting or keeping track of grievances, or times of forgiveness, or good deeds. How much is enough? Or as Jesus may hear it - what is the bare minimum I can do and still get "by"? I know that I find it much easier to forgive someone when they have first forgiven me for something I have done. It's as if they deserve my forgiveness more than someone I have never wronged. Jesus reminds Peter and us that it's not about how many times we do something but rather our intention that matters. Am I forgiving or loving because I owe a "debt" or am I doing so with the intention of my whole heart?

I haven't yet mastered the conversion of my whole heart to be loving and forgiving in all the situations that I want to be, in all the situations that I myself would want to be loved and forgiven. But in the times I have been able to do so, I have felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and peace. Surrendering the tally allows my heart to rest and opens me to a greater ability to love. For me, this is for sure, not easy. There are so many situations that I feel so wronged and want so badly for the other to experience and know my pain. Isn't this how they will learn not to hurt others in the future? Isn't it my job to teach them? These feelings of control and justification never seem to completely leave me. But  "Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful". Even now, with my conflicted heart and my controlling ego, even now God loves me. May his love transform our hearts to love as he does - without bound.

"Lord, give us the courage and the will to surrender our hearts to you. Resting in your hands, may we love as you love."

Reflected by Joan Ervin

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