Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today’s gospel (Matthew 5:17-37) challenges us beyond measure. The themes given to us in this text explore the hands-on way our faith is lived in the world. Jesus gives us another step beyond what was expected of people in this age. This text is also easily ignored as ultra-pious and unattainable in our day. Integrity, forgiveness, relationships and righteousness are not easy to discover and to live in our modern world.
One of the key reasons why Jesus came among us was to show us the compassion and forgiving love of the Father. This image of God totally changes people’s understanding of who God is and what is expected of us.
Forgiveness is at the heart of Jesus’ mission. Relationships based on such integrity and forgiveness are key to finding Jesus’ love. He desires healthy and loving relationships for people in poverty, for those who ache for justice, for people whose rights are wronged, for people who have been put down, degraded and abused.
Forgiveness and restored relationships reveal to us the true and lasting mission of Christ Jesus within the Church. Jesus goes beyond the commandment of thou shall not kill. He tells us even those who are angry with their brothers are going against his love. Forgiveness is key to following the true message of Christ. We all seek the grace from God to learn how to forgive. This is a lesson that is not learned in the classroom or through our intellectual pursuits. We cannot just wish for forgiveness. We must do something. Forgiveness changes our lives and reinforces our reliance on God. The first relationship that always needs to be restored is our relationship with God. This requires conversion of heart, attitudes, minds and actions. Forgiveness is next to Godliness.
Perhaps this week we can find some quiet time to reflect on our lives and sort out what forgiveness means. I discover in my ministry that many people hold hatred, anger and revenge for many years. Hatred towards another eats away our own love, hope and optimism. Hatred is poison. Un-forgiveness is slow death.
Here are some statements and thoughts to consider:
As I reflect on my past, the areas of hurt and lack of forgiveness that remain are….
The person I always wanted to forgive but never have is….
Today, I ask Jesus to show me a new path towards forgiveness because….
I hold so many grudges I can hardly count, so today I want to let go of….
My first reaction to difference is often anger, so I pray that I may….