Tuesday, March 5, 2013


In the monthly prayer and Mass booklet, Magnificat, the Lenten Gospel for March 5 is according to Matthew: chapter 18, verses 21--35.  One of Jesus' more powerful parables on forgiveness awaits you. 

But it's the Meditation of the Day which is striking.  Written by the late Monsignor Romano Guardini, a famous theologian and liturgist, it is well worth reflection:

Forgiveness should be no occasion, but our habitual attitude towards others....If you wish to obey Christ, you must first free yourself of all "righteous" indignation.  Only if you forgive entirely, can you contact the true self of the other, whom his own rebelliousness is holding back.  If you can reach this better self, you have a good chance of being heard, and of winning your brother.  This then is the great doctrine of forgiveness on which Jesus insists as one of the fundamentals of his message.  If we wish to get to its root, we must dig our way there question by question.

What must we overcome in ourselves to be capable of genuine forgiveness?...

Deep in the domain of the purely natural, the sentiment of having to do with an enemy.  This sense of the hostile is something animals have, and it reaches as far as their vulnerability.  Creatures are so ordered that the preservation of the one depends on the destruction of the other. 

This is also true of fallen man, deeply enmeshed in the struggle for existence.  he who injures me or takes something valuable from me is my enemy, and all my reactions of distrust, fear, and repulsion rise up against him.  I try to protect myself from him, and am able to do this best by constantly reminding myself of his dangerousness, instinctively mistrusting him, and being prepared at all times to strike back....

Here forgiveness would mean first that I relinquish the clear and apparently only sure defense of natural animosity; second, that I overcome fear and risk defenselessness, convinced that the enemy can do nothing against my intrinsic self....

But the crux of the matter is forgiveness, a profound and weighty thing.  Its prerequisite is the courage that springs from a deep sense of intimate security, and which, as experience has proved, is usually justified, for the genuine pardoner actually is stronger than the fear-ridden hater.

What extraordinary insights Guardini gives us!  He builds upon the message of Jesus Christ who in today's Gospel calls us to forgive our brother and sister not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

What a challenge for all of us along our Lenten journey.  I pray that our new Pope will continue proclaim and to witness the forgiveness of Jesus day and night in his service as the Successor to Peter.