Sunday, September 28, 2008

26th Sunday - homily

Today's Gospel story hits the nail on the head about our struggle to make commitments and keep them. We have a hard time saying yes and living it out. I would like to tell a "story" about someone who always said yes to God's Will and lived it out. You might have heard this one before. It's when Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders about the woman caught in adultery. He says (the famous line), "let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone". The leaders all drop their rocks and stones. Then, one stone is launched from the back of the group and lands nowhere near the woman, falling harmlessly to the ground. Jesus looks to see who threw it, shakes his head, sighs, and says, "Geez, Mom...! I'm trying to make a point here."

Mary always said yes to God's Will and lived it out. The rest of us are like the two sons from the Gospel, struggling with yes and no. I would like to focus on a moment - a big moment - when we say yes. It involves my favorite part of being a priests: Confession. In Confession, the person is saying yes to God - saying yes to His mercy, saying yes to going deeper in friendship with Him, saying yes to His love - while confessing all the times he or she had said no to Him.

It's a tremendous privilege for me to give God's yes to the person. First, it is in the form of advice or counsel, when I encourage and affirm the person and point out that their yes in coming to Confession trumps all their no's (all of their sins). And, that's the way that God sees it. Then, of course, is God's big yes - His forgiveness which comes in the form of the absolution.

God has always said yes to us. He said yes to us when He created us. He said yes to us when He saved us. He said yes to each one of us from the Cross. If we look at a crucifix, we see that Jesus' body is in the form of a 'Y' - He said yes to each one of us. He continues to say yes to us in Confession. He continues to say yes to us in the Eucharist; He continues to give us his life, His very Body and Blood.

May the grace of this Eucharist help us to say yes to Him. May we say yes to His Will and live it out. When we say yes to God, we say yes to His life, His mercy, His friendship, and His love.

14 Comments:

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This homily has really make me think. I would be the first to have to drop my stone. I have commitment issues really working on them. Wish the individual I need to show that I can commit would forgive me as easily as God does.

 
At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgiving people that sinned against you may be the most Christ-like thing you ever do, and it will identify you with Christ like nothing elsecan. Jesus was killed by the people He loved, so the people He loved could be close to Him. You've been betrayed by someone you love, and the only way you can ever remove every barrier. Forgive as christ forgives. If you withhold forgiveness, you'll keep yourself trapped in bitterness and pain, and it'll eat you alive. Your bitterness will continue to be a wallbetween the two of you. It will keep your relationship stuck in resentment, misfired communication, and hurt feelings. When you forgive them, you allow God's grace to flow freely through your heart, flush out all of your pain and anger, and fill you with His peace. It then lifts the shame and guilt of the sinner. It is only after you forgive when you will find peace again.

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger fran said...

I am always intrigued with the discussions which ensue, when the word 'forgiveness' is mentioned.

May I ask: How does a person know when they have not been forgiven by another? Does the individual actually say, "I refuse to forgive you for this or that.?" Or, is it just a perceived feeling on the part of the person who is seekig forgiveness?

A favorite phrase from the book "Tuesdays with Morrie," is, 'embrace it and let it go.'
Anon 11:41, I don't know your situation, but if you have received God's forgiveness, perhaps you have spent enough time embracing something which is now time to let go.

 
At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Letting go- that’s hard! There have been days where I have reminded myself (out loud) that I wasn’t putting thoughts “there.” Sometimes I react to a situation and need to make a conscience change. So, I don’t think letting go necessarily means that our perceptions and emotions regarding a situation will all leave us, but that we’re willing to continue to walk away from negativity’s direction as many times as it takes.

Regarding forgiveness-
There are times when I was bothered, not because another’s act was so heinous, but because I got lulled into this process of being fueled by pride, anger and self-righteousness. There’ve been times when I’ve held onto an issue b/c I thought letting go of it was an acknowledgement that I had little value in the matter. I think the other side of that coin is when I’ve questioned another’s forgiveness; I thought forgiveness should “look” another way. Again, my pride, anger and self-righteousness were at work, telling me that I was entitled not only to forgiveness but a specific manner of treatment, and I found myself, again, being fueled rather than embracing and letting go.

 
At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If God and Jesus can forgive us so easily why can't we give others a chance a forgive them?

 
At 12:22 PM, Blogger fran said...

A beautiful song about letting go and moving on in life...

"Let It Fade" by Jeremy Camp

"Have you been walking on a surface that's uncertain?
Have you helped yourself to everything that's empty?
You can't live this way too long.
There's more than this, more than this.
Have you been standing on your own feet too long?
Have you been looking for a place where you belong?
You can rest, you will find rest.
You can rest, you will find rest.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Let this new life offered be your saving grace.
Let this old life crumble, let it fade, let it fade.

Have you been holding on to what this world has offered?
Have you been giving in to all these masquerades?
It will be gone, forever gone.
It will be gone, it will be gone

Let this old life crumble let it
fade....."

source: http//www.sing365.com

 
At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fran: You asked how we know when we aren't forgiven by another. It is when they treat the person who wronged them as if they are less then we are, it is when we treat them as if "I'm not as bad of a person as you are because I didn't do _____ you did" even if we say "I forgive you" words of forgiveness are nice, but meaningless unless we put our money where our mouth is.

 
At 2:28 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Anon of 11:39-

Forgiveness isn’t always a making up process that includes apologies, tears and a warm hug to make all well again. As painful as it may be to accept, the wrongs we inflict upon others have consequences that are present when forgiveness has been extended.

Sometimes there are consequences that can't or shouldn't be removed when we forgive. For instance, if a woman forgives her rapist shouldn’t she still testify in court to insure justice is done? Consequences are meted out with forgiveness, and that can be hard to accept. Forgiveness does not cancel out those consequences. I think all of us have experiences in which we've wished that weren't true- I know I do.

Consider- maybe it is the consequences of your actions toward another that have changed the relationship you share, instead of a lack of forgiveness on their part. There are relationships in which I have let go of blame and no longer hold the wrong against a person, but I learned something about that person's character that changed the way I now relate to them.

Lastly, as hard as it may be to do, if you are truly contrite and another isn’t willing to restore the relationship to what it once was, I think you are obligated to respect that rather than challenge the measure of their forgiveness.

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mindy;

I wasn't saying it was, rather, what I was saying was we are obligated to treat the person as Christ would in forgiving them. Many times we say we forgive someone but we treat them very poorly and that isn't forgiveness. Forgiveness may not be a restoration of what once was in terms of a relationship but it is restoring that person to the same level of brotherhood/sisterhood in Christ that we all share, if we banish that person to a lesser role in our eyes or try and dictate how others may see them then we haven't forgiven them.

Sometimes one sin or a period of time in a person's life is not representative of their overall character, if it were, St. Augustine would be a playboy, St. Paul would still be a Christian hating persecutor, and most, if not all, of us would be lost.

When we look at what someone has done either to others or to us and we cast them aside and no longer view them as a brother or sister in Christ then we have failed in the mission he set for us. When you can look at the reprobate before you, who has done the worst thing to you or your loved one, and see in them Christ, see in them your brother or sister and though you may not like them at the moment you can still love them and treat them as your brother or sister in Christ and you pray to see them in heaven, then you can say you forgive them. It doesn't mean you have to have them over for cake and tea, but it does mean that you can't treat them like they don't exist or hold yourself up as a better person. Each of us put Christ on that cross by our sins.

 
At 3:14 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Anon-

We never know what’s in another’s heart. I’m not saying that you are, but there have been times when I thought about forgiveness in terms of the personal rather than spiritual. When it’s personal, it’s about me and my experiences; when it’s spiritual it’s about Reconciliation with God. I’m not sure if you can be reconciled with Him if you not only don’t forgive but also don’t ACCEPT forgiveness. I think it’s God’s job to judge another’s sincerity- and believe me- that’s now a huge load off this mere mortal!

 
At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its great that you let God forgive the people you are having a problem with. And to let God judge another's sincerity. Why not try to learn what is in another's heart? Yes the person on a personal level needs to say the words and stand behind them that is true. And if they do stand up and sincerity is present, why not try to work toward restoring the relationship. Someone said something about a rapist and that is not on a personal level, no relationship , you forgive them and let God judge them. But if it is a personal friend why not? Fran--yes let it go and work toward restoration, that's beauitful.

 
At 4:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Why not try to learn what’s in another’s heart?”

What’s in another’s heart isn’t always overtly, outwardly demonstrated in the way in which we’d like or in a way that we understand. We can try to be understanding, for sure. But we should be careful about crossing over into judgment. God alone is the judge because He alone is fair. His standards represent perfect love and righteousness. He alone knows the intent of a person’s heart.

 
At 6:00 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

“And if they do stand up and sincerity is present, why not try to work toward restoring the relationship.”

Often, we want to set our own conditions and have certain expectations of what it means to restore a relationship- and that’s fine, but we should recognize that, sometimes, in doing that we miss out on opportunities.

I told a friend something personal that I asked her not tell anyone. My friend told others and I was upset. I forgave her; however, I don’t share my private information with her anymore. I learned that she is someone who has a difficult time holding confidences, though I love her and believe she’s of value in many ways. In my heart, I restored her to the level she once had, but I don’t interact with her in the same way.

And there was a man I dated years ago who scared me when his personal issues spilled into our relationship. I forgave the things he did, but I stopped dating him. At a later time, he shared with me that he’d cleaned up his life and hoped we could go to dinner. I can confidently say that I had restored him to a place of dignity in my heart, but I declined that invitation and still believe it was prudent. We parted as friends.

Does the way I now behave with them, different from the way I once did, mean we haven’t reconciled the relationships? No. I can be reconciled w/the situation and still say, “I love you as my sister, but let’s not do lunch anymore,” but WE can’t be reconciled with one another if the offender doesn’t choose to accept my condition.

Sometimes, we have been offered reconciliation but are required to meet conditions. If we allow the presence of those conditions to determine restoration to our satisfaction rather than another’s, then we’d really be the ones denying reconciliation.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger fran said...

Maybe I'm not understanding something here, or maybe I'm just plain wrong, but I do not think that everything has to necessarily come out "even" when one person forgives another.

I think it is acceptable for two people to forgive each other and still part ways, because they simply do not see eye to eye on whatever the offense was in the first place.

Isn't it okay to agree to disagree? Doing so does not negate any type of previously offered forgiveness, it does not judge, and it does not set any conditions. It simply says I forgive you, as you forgive me, though we still have our differences, AND it is time to move on. I'm not sure I see anything wrong with that.

 

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