Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reflection for the 3rd Week of Lent, Part 1

Monday – Joseph's Courage

St. Joseph was a courageous man. When he thought that Mary, his betrothed, had cheated on him, he still wanted to protect her from public scorn. He had the courage to renounce his own rights, and the criticism that might come upon him should the matter become known, to make sure Mary was safe.

Then, when he found out the truth in a dream, Joseph had the courage first to believe that the dream was real, meaningful, and true (a lesser man might have denied this) and second to obey the angel's command. Joseph took Mary as his wife. He had the courage to let go of his opinions and ideas and embrace God's.

Indeed, St. Joseph was a very courageous man.

Tuesday – Seventy-Seven Times

How many times must we forgive those who have wronged us? Peter wants to know. Must we forgive even as many as seven times? Peter clearly thinks this much forgiveness was enough for anyone and those who require more of it could be given up as lost causes.

But Jesus has other ideas. No, He tells Peter, not seven times but seventy-seven times. The Greek text actually suggests something even more dramatic: seventy times seven times.

In other words, Jesus says that we are to forgive a huge number of times, a number much more than we would want to or feel necessary. In Greek parlance, this number actually doesn't refer to any particular number at all but is symbolic of completeness, even limitlessness. We are not to place any maximum on our forgiveness. We are to forgive without restriction.

Why does Jesus say this? Shouldn't there be at least some limit on forgiveness, especially for people who don't show enough remorse to restrain themselves from sinning again? Jesus knows, and wants us to understand, that forgiveness is more about the forgiver than the forgiven. Forgiveness means letting go of the past and moving forward. Forgiveness means letting go of the pain and accepting healing. Forgiveness may not affect the forgiven at all, but it has an immense effect on the forgiver who is freed by embracing forgiveness.

That is why Jesus tells us to forgive seventy-seven or even seventy times seven times.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from 

Wednesday – Do Not Forget

“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live...”

With these words, Moses warns the Israelites not to forget the wonders God has performed for them. They had witnessed all of the plagues God sent upon the Egyptians. They had rejoiced over the rescue of their first born sons on Passover. They had seen the Red Sea split in two and allow them to cross over on dry land. They had stood by the mountain when God appeared in a cloud. They had followed that cloud day and night across the desert. They had eaten the miraculous manna that God sent as their food.

Miracles upon miracles. The Israelites had seen them all, yet they still tended to forget them, especially when things got tough, when things started going wrong, when things didn't pan out the way they wanted.

Don't we do the same? We quickly forget God's blessings when we face trials. We fail to remember the miracles God has showered down on our ancestors and even on ourselves. We dismiss all His loving care. We ignore His grace.

And then, like the Israelites, we sometimes fall into sin. So do not forgot.

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