Posted by: RAM | August 12, 2015

Thursday (August 13): “Lord, how often shall I forgive my brother?”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Feast of Saint Benilde Romançon, FSC
Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 416

First Reading: Joshua 3:7-11, 13-17
Psalms 114:1-6: Alleluia!
Gospel: Matthew 18:21–19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Reflection: Does mercy overlook justice? Justice demands that everyone be given their due. So when is it right to show mercy and pardon to those who have acted unjustly or wrongly? The prophet Amos speaks of God forgiving transgression three times, but warns that God may not revoke punishment for the fourth (see Amos 1:3-13; 2:1-6). When Peter posed the question of forgiveness, he characteristically offered an answer he thought Jesus would be pleased with. Why not forgive seven times! How unthinkable for Jesus to counter with the proposition that one must forgive seventy times that.

No limit to granting forgiveness and pardon 
Jesus makes it clear that there is no limit to giving and receiving forgiveness. He drove the lesson home with a parable about two very different kinds of debts. The first man owed an enormous sum of money – millions in our currency. In Jesus’ time this amount was greater than the total revenue of a province – more than it would cost to ransom a king! The man who was forgiven such an incredible debt could not, however, bring himself to forgive his neighbor a very small debt which was about one-hundred-thousandth of his own debt.The contrast could not have been greater!

Jesus paid our ransom to set us free from the debt of sin
No offense our neighbor can do to us can compare with our own personal debt to God for offending him! We have been forgiven an enormous debt we could not repay on our own. That is why the Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who freely and willing gave up his life for our sake to ransom us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Paul the Apostle states, “you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23 ) and that price was Jesus’ death on the cross. Through the shedding of his blood on the cross, Jesus not only brought forgiveness and pardon for our offenses, but release from our captivity to Satan and bondage to sin.

Set free from futile thinking and sinful living
The Lord Jesus sets us free from a futile mind and way of living in sin and spiritual darkness. “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers …with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18). Christ “gave himself to redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14). Iniquity describes the futile ways of wrong thinking, sinful attitudes and wrong behavior, and disregarding or treating God’s commandments lightly. We have been forgiven an enormous debt which we could never possibly repay. We owe God a debt of gratitude for the mercy and grace he has given us in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Forgiving others is a sacred duty
If God has shown mercy to us in granting us pardon for our sins, then we, in turn, must show mercy and forgiveness towards every person who has offended us. The willingness to forgive those who offend us is a sacred duty. If we expect God to pardon us and show us his mercy when we sin and disobey his commandments, then we must be willing to let go of any resentment, grievance, or ill-will we feel towards our neighbor. Jesus teaches us to pray daily for the grace and strength to forgive others in the same measure in which God has forgiven us (Matthew 6:12,14-15). If we do show mercy and forgiveness to our fellow human beings, how can we expect God to forgive us in turn? The Apostle James says that “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).

Mercy seasons justice and perfects it
Mercy is the flip-side of God’s justice. Without mercy justice is cold, calculating, and even cruel. Mercy seasons justice as salt seasons meat and gives it flavor. Mercy follows justice and perfects it. Justice demands that the wrong be addressed. To show mercy without addressing the wrong and to pardon the unrepentant is not true mercy but license. C.S. Lewis, a 20th century Christian author wrote: “Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.”  If we want mercy shown to us we must be ready to forgive others from the heart as God has forgiven us. Do you hold any grudge or resentment towards anyone? Ask the Lord to purify your heart that you may show mercy and loving-kindness to all – and especially to those who cause you grief and ill-will.

“Lord Jesus, you have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as you are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.” author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Benilde Romançon (Thuret, France, 14.06.1805 – Saugues, 13.08.1862)

He is the first of these everyday saints, canonized in 1967. He came from a farming family, those who earned heaven and their bread from the land. He lived during the Restoration times, with a war raging, while political storms shook Europe. None of this succeeded in shaking his total dedication to the one purpose in his life, his apostolic ministry in the primary schools of Aurillac, Limoges, Moulins, Clermont and Billom, before moving to Saugues, where he labored for the last twenty years of his life.

Nothing very exciting marked his character, his intellect or his apostolic work. There is no grand apostolic undertaking to record; no learned speeches, no pedagogical or ascetical publications, no new foundations or reforms initiated. There was nothing special about him, one might say.

Unbelievable, but true. This modest existence proved to be a serious obstacle to his canonization. I would like to quote here what Brother Leone Napione, Postulator at that time said when he introduced the new saint in the “aula magna” of Rome’s Sacred Heart University, on October 28th 1967, on the eve of his canonization: ”When saint Thérèse of Lisieux was canonised, her ’little way‘ was not formally recognised. It was similar to the ’very little way‘ of Brother Benilde. It was then inevitable that the Promoter of the Faith, popularly called ’the devil’s advocate,’ should use this statement of ’nothing extraordinary‘ to deny the heroism of Brother Benilde’ virtues. And with what ardor he did it. That was his job, no doubt, but perhaps it grew out of his personal conviction, raising this animadversion, or objection, at every stage of the process, introduction and then at the three successive stages. The defense lawyers used the cleverest pleading imaginable to oppose the objection: first one lawyer, then a second who finally gave up and was replaced by a third, who argued more boldly and mustered even stronger arguments.

It was Pope Pius XI who saved the humble Brother Benilde from this so often repeated objection. He was a great Pope, one with eyes looking toward heaven and with his Alpine climber’s feet firmly planted on the ground. It was he who made the proclamation, first in somewhat restrained words in the more intimate setting of the general Congregation, but later fully orchestrated in the public address of January 6th 1928. The Pope affirmed the possibility of reaching heroism by fulfilling perfectly one’s daily duties. This truth had remained eclipsed until then. The Pope felt that it should be fully displayed, to shine forever. In these words – I only quote the gist – Pope Ratti expressed himself:

’That what is extraordinary, great events, splendid enterprises – just by getting known arise and awaken our best tendencies, acts of generosity, dormant energies often hidden deep in the soul…But that which is common, of everyday occurrence, that which does not stand out, is not brilliant – all that does not excite us and fascinate us.  But such is the life of so many people. It is usually woven around common, daily events. For this reason the Church appears to us very wise when we are invited to admire the examples of the commonest and humblest everyday virtues, all the more precious because humble and common. How often do we have to face extraordinary events in life? Very seldom. Woe to us if holiness were to be tied solely to those extraordinary circumstances. What would most people do? And yet the call to holiness is made to all without distinction… Here then is the great lesson this humble Servant of God brings us once again: holiness is not attached to extraordinary acts, but rather to common, everyday acts performed in an uncommon way‘.

In this way Brother Benilde, without intending to and without wanting to, furnished a great Pontiff with the opportunity to move in the direction of a better interpretation when it comes to valuing heroism through the practice of virtue – from one that is based on the exceptional and the extraordinary to one that is based on the normal and the commonplace. In this way, holiness came to be presented as unsophisticated, as built into the very fabric of everyday life, family life, professional life, civil life, religious life. What a difference there lies between what we see and a reality that was extraordinary, as in Brother Benilde’s case“.

His was a very long process. It started on November 23rd 1899 at Le Puy, France, and it was not until April 4th 1948 that he was beatified by Pius XII On October 29th 1967, he was canonized by Paul VI. His liturgical feast is on August 13th.

Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  RAM Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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