Seventy Times Seven

Compassion is a talent, a virtue: honed and practised, one we ought to teach to our children from a very young age. When we know compassion, we know also the basic tenet of forgiveness – that big word, the ‘f’ word we dread and use rarely. I hope the word burns within you: forgiveness is humbling, and to be forgiven is even more so…we ought to forgive because we all can recall a time when we have done wrong to someone else, whether it be to someone we love, a community we once belonged to, a mistake against our future. Notice how I write “we” instead of anything more singular? It is because none of us are exempt.

I’ve done wrong to others, and you have. Perhaps I’ve caused you to remember all those people in your life who have caused you harm, betrayal, or turmoil. Perhaps you do not feel vindicated enough for being the ‘offended’ party. Perhaps, you remember with sorrow, the greatest regret of your life – the greatest mistake, the most painful recollection of selfishness. I know I do. ‘We’ are guilty.

It is of great virtue to recall that all of us are of flesh and soul, of mind and body, spirit and blood. That each of us are created by one Father, crafted in His image, and it is literally the sin of the world that Christ bore on the cross for all of our redemption. Therefore, we ought to pray for the grace to be able to forgive, and forgive radically.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. and since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” St Matthew 18:21-35 (ESVA)

You see here that Our Lord commands not just forgiveness, but forgiveness without limit. The Jews of the time placed a special significance on the number “7,” for it meant a certain height of infinity – and today we know, it remains just as special (the seven sorrows, joys, days of creation). Our Lord doesn’t mean just seventy-times-seven, no, He means again, again, again, and again: today, tomorrow, always. He commands us always to forgive. My friends, it is very important that we read this gospel as often as we can. Weekly, monthly – however, as long as it becomes a habit. Our Saviour continues to teach the apostles that those who sow mercy will also receive it, and forgiveness is contained in every drop of Christ’s Precious Blood.

Oh, but how difficult that is!

If anyone has ever read The Brothers Karamazov, you may recall how Fyodor, the father of Ivan and Alexei (amongst others), reacts towards his own embarrassments, mistakes, and maniacal behaviour – he begins the blame the victim, and even, hate him. This is because he couldn’t bring himself to forgive himself for his wrongdoings, and rather than straighten up and carry on, Dostoevsky, in his psychological way, creates a narrative around hard-headedness.

We as Christians ought not to have hard hearts, and I am as guilty as the next. We have to forgive: radically. Ourselves, others; we do this because God forgives us.

This is why He left us a Church.

This is why He left us the sacraments.

This is why He left us the confessional.

Because He loves us. He forgives us.

Confession is mandatory. Let us pray for the grace of a good and holy confession, for graces that come from forgiveness, and from being forgiven.

Advertisements

“Explain to us the tare in the field.”

pl1_372505_fnt_tr_t86iii

Then he sent the multitude away, and went back into the house. There his disciples came to him, and said, Explain to us the parable of the tares in the field. He answered, It is the Son of Man that sows the good seed. The field is the world, and the sons of the kingdom are the good seed; the sons of the wicked one are the tares. The enemy that sowed them is the devil, and the end of the world is the harvest; it is reaped by the angels. The tares were gathered together and burned in the fire, and so it will be when the world is brought to an end; the Son of Man will give charge to his angels, and they will gather up all that gives offence in his kingdom, all those who do wickedly in it, and will cast them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Then, at last, the just will shine out, clear as the sun, in their Father’s kingdom. Listen, you that have ears to hear with. St Matthew 13:36-43 (Knox)

Tunc, dimissis turbis, venit in domum: et accesserunt ad eum discipuli ejus, dicentes: Edissere nobis parabolam zizaniorum agri. Qui respondens ait illis: Qui seminat bonum semen, est Filius hominis. Ager autem est mundus. Bonum vero semen, hi sunt filii regnum. Zizania autem, filii sunt nequam. Inimicus autem, qui seminavit ea, est diabolus. Messis vero, consummatio sæculi est. Messores autem, angeli sunt. Sicut ergo colliguntur zizania, et igni comburuntur: sic erit in consummatione sæculi. Mittet Filius hominis angelos suos, et colligent de regno ejus omnia scandala, et eos qui faciunt iniquitatem: et mittent eos in caminum ignis. Ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium. Tunc justi fulgebunt sicut sol in regno Patris eorum. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat. S. Matthias 13:36-43 (Vulgate)

To this day, we find the tare in the midst of the Church. Dissenters, who, in a spirit of fall charity and truth, peddle a gospel more compatible with the changes of the modern world. Clerics who, in an attempt to make people more comfortable rather than familiar with the truth of God, reconcile acceptance to sin with a plastic definition of “love” which we also call lukewarmness, or, apathy.

Isn’t it funny how we never have an intense feeling or lukewarmness? But we often have a hatred against truth, and the devil is the one who confuses us. I think of groups like “Catholic For Choice” and the ilk. Satan sows tare, or weeds, just like this. Since we often fail to have an informed conscious; another tare of Satan. But the warning of disaster coming to those not guarded up by the angels of God are in fact a statement of immense love from Our Blessed Lord (and really, every word of Christ is one burning with love), and a warning against being deceived. It is a a battle cry!

“Then, at last, the just will shine out, clear as the sun, in their Father’s kingdom. Listen, you that have ears to hear with.”

We, who can hear: we can hear the word of God. But we need to use our intuition, and our natural reason will tell us whose voice is speaking, whether ours or God’s. He gives us His grace to hear His word, and we have to choose to obey it: and if we don’t choose to obey it, if we don’t choose to love, if we don’t choose to instruct sinners, then who will instruct us? If do not accept the nature of our indifference, then how can we come to love our brethren and to love the Lord? How can we benefit in the great goodness of our Merciful Saviour and His Blessed Mother, the co-redemptrix, whose intercession rains down innumerable numbers of graces!

The truth shines out – as clear as the sun. Even when it’s foggy, we can see the spot in the sky where that shadowy glimmer of light exposes the sun.

 

My Soul Knows it Very Well

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 (ESVA)

Let not your hearts be troubled, the liturgy tells us, for our sins are forgiven. And as we forgive others, so are we forgiven. Christ awaits us in the confessional, for there in our brokenness does he receive us. Our loving Saviour: he gathers up each shattered shard of our hearts, blows away every spirit, and in the warmth of His hands he warms our hardened hearts and fills us with his Divine Spirit so to infuse in us His most wonderful grace, through His Blessed Mother. Never doubt. Never be afraid,! Rather live in fear of God, a righteous fear.

Many times this past week I have offered up my own broken and contrite heart, and each time, I felt the winds of God restoring peace in my soul. I don’t know how much I’ve cried, nor been in trouble through my own stupid and manic choices. While, right now life appears to me before me as absurd and futile, I know that is my weak understanding of things. God knows best.

If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:9-16 (ESVA)

Our days are planned in the book of life, and if we trust in the Church and we trust in God, we know that our life is a gift. He knows our use, He knit us together, He knew us before anyone or thing knew us. He didn’t put us here as a single cog in a machine, for only to spin the earth. No, He will always be with us. He will never leave us, and we have a purpose: for His Mystical Body feeds us daily.

Never forget these words. We approach repressive days as Christians; the world is not for our conformity. This world is not our home. Though I travel through some mist of my own grand illusion, God urges me on towards that which is right. He has not left us, and His love for us is closer than that of our own breath.

Please pray for me, and I’m praying for you. God Bless.