Friday of the First Week of Lent
This Week’s Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the outcast, and the forgotten people of the world.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 5:20-26
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Traditionally, the time of Lent is especially devoted to reflecting on the meaning of the life of Christ. Saint Paul said that the purpose of the Incarnation was that God might reconcile the world to himself. God was looking to heal a broken humanity by revealing his loving and saving presence in a very human way. This says much about the lengths to which our God will go to help put things right for us. It also says much about what lies at the center of what has gone wrong for us.
Jesus taught his followers that, of all of the sins that persons might commit, perhaps the greatest is to break faith with one another. The hurts that we inflict and that we receive tear at the fabric of who we were created to be. The farther apart we are, the less we are able to share in the life of God’s fullness, that from which we draw our identity and our meaning. We are incomplete, inauthentic, barely ourselves. And so, Jesus teaches that, to be whole, we must forgive. We must come to one another, just as God came to us, to be reconciled. It is in the humble and sincere restoration of our relationships that the true purpose of forgiveness is fulfilled. Like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the power of understanding and acceptance restores all who welcome and are welcomed in compassion and joy. We were dead and are alive again. We were lost and now are found.
Author Jeanette Winterson maintains, “You cannot disown what is yours…There is always the return. And the wound will take you there.” The key to reconciliation is not only forgiving and asking forgiveness, but also attending to the pain and vulnerability in all of us that reaches out, begging to be healed. Lent offers to us time to reflect both on the wounds that we have given others and on the wounds that we ourselves carry. We can see them for what they are: common ground on which we are able to reunite with one another in the shared experience of prodigals, persons who went astray and broke faith with one another, but who now have summoned the courage to return home.
Eternal Father, your Son came to us so that, through his sacrifice on the cross, we would be reconciled to you and to each other. In this time of Lent, bring us together as one, as your body, your church, your people. Help us to live with each other, reconciled, sharing forgiveness and healing with one another. Inspire us to have care and vigilance for the young, teaching them to follow in your ways of humility, peace, and justice. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever.