Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reflections for the 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Forgiveness

Jesus challenges us in today's Gospel. The whole thing begins with a question from Peter. He wants to know how many times he must forgive someone who has sinned against him. Must he forgive even seven times? 

Not seven times, Jesus replies, but seventy-seven times. In other words, forgiveness should be constant. We must always forgive those who have hurt us. 

That might seem impossible. There are some hurts, some horrors, that wound us to the very depths of our being. How can we ever forgive those? 

We must forgive because to do so heals and frees us from those hurts and horrors. Forgiveness is not forgetting what has happened. It's not saying that it was okay. It's not denying the hurt. It's not even committing to spend time with the person who hurt you. 

Forgiveness is saying that you deliberately choose to let go of the hurt and the horror. You choose not to let it control you. You choose not to let it make you bitter and angry. You choose to move on. 

Further, when you choose to forgive, you choose to love the person who hurt you. Quite apart from emotions, you decide with your will that you want the absolute best for the person. You wish the person all the goodness, truth, and beauty that he or she needs. You even pray for the person, asking God to touch his or her heart and draw him or her close to Him. 

Forgiveness isn't easy, but Jesus commands it, and therefore, we must do it. But He is here to assist us when we turn to Him in our need and ask Him to help us forgive as He has forgiven us.

(Please see Sarah Christmeyer's article “Forgive That You Might Be Forgiven: Practical Tips for Letting Go” for further reflections on forgiveness.)

Friday – Receive the Word of God

Today's Gospel Acclamation commands us to “Receive the Word of God, not as the word of men, but, as it truly is, the Word of God.” 

How many of us really appreciate the mystery and miracle that is God's Word in Sacred Scripture? How many of us take the time to read and reflect on this great gift from God

Below are five facts about Sacred Scripture that every Catholic must know.

1. Scripture is inspired and therefore inerrant. God is its true Author, and God cannot tell lies or make mistakes, so Scripture always tells the truth. We may not always understand it, but we can always trust it.

2. God used human beings as His instruments to write Sacred Scripture, but those humans were also real authors. As Dei Verbum (Vatican II's document on Divine Revelation) explains, “In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted” (no. 9). This is a mystery, but it is also reality.

3. The Old Testament and the New Testament together tell one story, that of salvation history, God's plan for the creation and recreation of humanity. As St. Augustine once said, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”

4. Sacred Scripture doesn't stand alone. Sacred Tradition is also part of Divine Revelation. In fact, Scripture rose out of Tradition, which Dei Verbum says was handed on by the Apostles and “includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the people of God.” The document continues, “...and so the Church in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes” (no. 8). Dr. Scott Hahn elaborates, noting that the “stuff” of Sacred Tradition is “The Church's response to the Word – its preaching and proclamation, its teaching and liturgical life,” but the heart of Tradition is “a true and personal encounter with the saving presence of Christ.”

5. The Magisterium, the Church's teaching office, carefully listens to, guards, and explains Divine Revelation, both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. The Magisterium is guided in this task by the Holy Spirit, Who makes sure that the Church “gets it right” when it comes to handing on the truth of God's Word.

If you haven't already done so, read Dei Verbum. It's available full text on the Vatican website, and it's an extremely important document for all of us Catholics to study and know well if we really want to receive the Word of God as the Word of God. 

(Source – Scott Hahn, Spirit & Life: Essays on Interpreting the Bible in Ordinary Time, p. 36-37.)

Saturday – A Prayer on the Assumption of Mary

Mother Mary, your soul magnifies the Lord; teach us to become small in order to make God larger in our lives and show Him to all those around us.

Mother Mary, your spirit rejoices in God the Savior; help us to be joyful in spirit as we exalt in the salvation our God has so graciously given to us.

Mother Mary, you call yourself a lowly servant and remind us that God lifts up the lowly; teach us to be humble and to serve God and our neighbors.

Mother Mary, you foretold that all nations would call you blessed; increase our devotion to you that you may lead us to your Son, Jesus.

Mother Mary, you proclaimed that God has done great things for you; help us recognize and be thankful for the great things God has done in our lives.

Mother Mary, you warn us that God scatters the proud in their conceit; teach us to let go of our pride.

Mother Mary, you tell us that God fills the hungry with good things; inspire us to be hungry for God and for His grace.

Mother Mary, you assure us that God remembers His promise of mercy; motivate us to always run to God for His great mercy.

Mother Mary, you were assumed body and soul into Heaven through the power and love of your Son; may we all join you there that we may spend eternity in God's loving arms.


(Originally posted on this blog on August 15, 2012)

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