Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of the world.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 5:20-26
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”
“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.”
A Lenten Reflection
The time of Lent is a good time to reflect on why God chose to become one of us. Saint Paul said that the purpose of the Incarnation was that God might reconcile the world to himself, reaching to heal a broken humanity by revealing his loving presence in a very human way. This says much about what God will do to help put things right for us. It also says much about where we go wrong.
The parable of the prodigal son teaches that, of all of the sins that persons might commit, perhaps the greatest is to break faith with one another. The farther apart we are, the more incomplete we are, and the distance tears at the fabric of who we were created to be. To be whole, we must come to one another, just as God came to us, to be reconciled. It is in this humble reclaiming of our relationships that the true purpose of forgiveness is fulfilled: the restoration of our true selves. 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 is 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 then can see them for what they are: common ground on which we are able to reunite with one another as 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 especially 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.