Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and Column

Our Lady of Sorrows

Original art: Ronald Raab, CSC

Click here to read the full bulletin

Dear Followers of Jesus,

Forgiveness is a life-long process. Forgiveness is at the heart of love, the real message of Jesus. Every person knows well the emptiness and the hollow feeling in our guts when we know we need to forgive one more time. Our wellbeing calls us into healthy, loving relationships.

Matthew 18:15-20 calls us to a deeper forgiveness than we can imagine. We are challenged to move beyond our fragile egos, our hurt feelings, and our sense of entitlement and forgive not just seven times, but seventy-seven times. We all have a long way to go to discover the grace of true and genuine relationship.

The mission of Jesus is the essence of forgiveness. He breaks down walls, steps over boundaries, and creates unity in the most unexpected places. In today’s gospel we hear that when genuine forgiveness is present, he is at the center of the riff and the fraction. He is the core of love. We are to follow that love. His death and resurrection is the heart of his mission, the reconciling of heaven and earth. He brings to us, in our human and fragile lives, the healing that we all desire.

Forgiveness lives among us with many faces. My experience with prayer and the sacraments in our Church suggests that the first place where forgiveness needs to happen is deep within our selves. Many people carry within themselves much regret, unhappiness and anger. We are sometimes incapable of searching for and resting in God’s forgiveness. Many people think that if other people really knew them, they would not like them. Many people are lost in their secrets. We are challenged to take to heart that God’s love is for every person, including our very lives. Jesus wants the best for us. He wants every aspect of our personal lives to rest in his forgiveness and mercy. Forgiveness is not a head-trip.

Is there a limit to our forgiveness toward others? Well, in some cases, the answer is yes. We certainly need to be careful for the safety of our lives. There is a limit to forgiveness when we are being abused. When the illness of another is hurting our children or us. If there is deep alcohol or substance abuse creating the hardship, we need to be careful not to just forgive because our faith calls us to. Forgiving again does not mend addiction or abusive behavior. Forgiveness alone does not mend our co-dependency or lack of self-esteem. Jesus alone heals.

Here are some questions to consider this week:

What is the role of forgiveness in your life? How can you invite Jesus into your broken relationships? How can you celebrate the healing of your relationships when forgiveness happens? How can you pray for others, for your family and even the Church so that we all learn how to forgive and how to be forgiven?

Blessings to you,

Fr. Ron

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