…how often must I forgive?
- Mt 18:21
Our Lord calls us through today’s Gospel to ‘forgive from the heart’. How appropriate given the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Forgiveness does not always come easy, especially where there may be no repentance or sorrow on behalf of the perpetrator. Like all significant tragedies, most of us can remember exactly where we were when the news became known on 9/11/2001. I was in my first week of seminary in Chicago. That morning, I was passing seminarians in the door-way to our dorm building on my way to an 8:30 AM class (CST). As they rushed in, they said that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. They were pushing past, anxious to see a television set with news. At first, it sounded like an accident. I proceeded to class asking others what they knew. The gravity of the situation was written on our wise professor’s face. The tall priest, a pillar of spirituality, was shaken. His face foretold a truth that we have since experienced; the world was entering a new level of crisis.
I almost wrote that the world would be ‘forever changed’, presumably for the worst. But, I don’t believe that any tragedy necessarily changes things forever for the worse. Yes, there is loss, but we have a God who can heal. And yes, there has been an increase of conflict in the world. But, do we necessarily have to be a part of it? Jesus calls Christians to a higher standard than violence and revenge. The bottom line of Jesus’ message is one of mercy. We hear that today as Jesus admonishes Peter to forgive ‘seventy-seven times.’ And this is not sim-ply a perfunctory act of the intellect. Jesus says that we must forgive our brother from the heart. This means real love.
From what I know of fundamentalist Islam, we’re not going to agree on many important aspects of religion, culture or politics. But, do I love the jihadist despite our radical disagreement? Do I desire his or her good? This is Aquinas’ definition of love, “to will the good of another”. We just heard St. Paul say that the fulfillment of the Law is to ‘love our neighbor’. He does not say whether that is a Christian neighbor, or Jewish, or Muslim, or atheist. Our duty as Christians is to love regardless of another’s different belief, even about what we hold most sacred. If what we hold most sacred, the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, has had its intended effect, then we will have the grace to forgive, to love, and bring healing to our broken world.
Save Us, Savior of the World
We began singing the Memorial Acclamation this past week from the New Translation of the Roman Missal. Thanks to Marijean Heutmaker, John Burton, and all the musicians who helped implement this change. We’ll continue to integrate a few of the sung responses before the First Sunday of Advent (Nov 27th), when all the changes become the norm for Mass. Please take time to read the bulletin inserts that explain the theological thinking and linguistics behind the new texts. I include here a short quote from the new Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose H. Gomez, who writes about the "wonderful gift" the Revised Missal will be for the Church:
Implementing this new translation means much more than simply memorizing new prayers. I really believe this new translation offers us a special moment of grace.
It is a fact of life that anything we do over and over again can become routine, something we just do without paying too much attention.
But we can never let the Mass become routine for us. We need to love the Eucharist! We need to live the holy Mass! Our Christian life, our whole life, must be centered in the Eucharist.
That is why this new translation is such a wonderful gift. It gives us the opportunity for a new Eucharistic catechesis. It gives us the chance to reflect more deeply on the meaning of our worship - on what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist, and why.