The Gospel according to Luke (17:1-6)
Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Reflection: I am not sure how many times a day or week we pray the Lords Prayer. And within that beautiful prayer we say these words, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do you realize how many times we vow to Our Lord to forgive us, and we also vow to forgive each other? You are asking the Lord, to be as patient with you and with others’ repentance. Forgiveness is not a cover-all “blanket policy”, but a reaching out towards the one who repents.
This reminds me of one of the men at Mary’s Village. Mary’s Village is a transitional facility for men that want to set their lives straight. This man that we will call Joe was one of the original residents back when we opened two years ago. Joe was very intelligent, fun to talk to, and had a family but he came from the streets of San Bernardino because of his addiction to alcohol. He tried several times to kick the habit but to no prevail. While Joe was at Mary’s Village, he was a stellar example of what a resident should be like. He was Team Leader, he was handy with the tools, and he wasn’t afraid to put his arm around another guy just to give him some love. In fact, I personally enjoyed Joe’s friendship and would call him a friend.
There were two separate occasions that we dropped Joe off at the doctor’s office and he snuck out to the liquor store to purchase alcohol. On both occasions when he was caught, he didn’t hesitate to admit it, but we were forced to ask him to leave because that was the contract that he agreed upon. The rules also indicated that if the men put themselves in a “Rehab” and completed the course, then we would allow them back. Joe did exactly that. We were not upset or mad at Joe and we forgave him immediately. We understood that he had a demon that lives in him and he, and only he, could remove that demon. Fast forward to today, Joe has been “sober” for over a year now. In fact, I am happy to say that Joe is doing well. He has been working, acquired a car, and is getting ready to move from the facility into his own condo. He has also connected with his family, his parents, and his extended family. Every time I see him, he is happy and grateful to God for his new life.
Jesus tells us that despite our efforts to lead a good life, we are sure to stumble. He understands this and hence his lovely gift of Reconciliation. But he warns us of the great damage we do if we are responsible for causing others to stumble. Our being together should be for our mutual support, forgiveness, and love. These three traits are what we have to offer to our brothers and sisters who have wronged us. Be grateful for all those who, through the grace of God, helped you to live your faith in the shadow of Jesus. Realizing our own weakness and realizing too how the Lord is so considerate towards us, helps us to be more Christ-like when we need to forgive others.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Action of the Day: Say the Lord’s Prayer very slowly. Stop at every pause or comma and think about what you just said. What are those words that you just said? How does that reflect in your life today? What else can you do? What is God telling you to do?