Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Lord, You Are Good and Forgiving!" (Psalm 86:5) - Our Real Reason For Hope

This is my reflection on the Mass readings of Sunday, July 20, 2014
Year A Ordinary Time 16th Sunday
Mass Readings: Wis 12:13, 16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43

“Lord, you are good and forgiving!” Captured in the antiphon of the Responsorial Psalm is the heart of the message of this Sunday’s Mass readings – an amazing message that punctuates every action taken by God in the history of salvation, a wonderful message that gives us the real reason to be hopeful and joyful.

God “gave [His] sons good ground for hope that [He] would permit repentance for their sins” (Wis 12:19), intoned the inspired writer in the first reading.

“Let them grow together until harvest” (Mt. 13:30), replied the kind and patient householder in Jesus’ parable in response to his servant’s request to pull up the weeds that grew through the wheat, for he didn’t want the uprooting of the weeds to endanger the wheat.

"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity!” (Ex. 34:6) God revealed His loving, patient, and merciful nature to Israel as soon as He entered into a covenant with them.

This brings to mind a story that has touched so many hearts.

Bob and Debbie were devout Catholics and loving parents who did everything possible to give their two children, Jack and Stephanie, a good Catholic upbringing. While Stephanie excelled in both her faith and career, Jack started to drift away from church soon after entering university. Soon after university, which he barely managed to complete, he was able to find a job. But his career went from blunder to blunder, changing jobs 4 times in a matter of 2 years. Eventually he became unemployed. He started drinking. One night he came home very drunk, messing up the bath room and waking up everyone in the house.

Stephanie, who was working on a company project that must be submitted the next morning, was very angry with her brother. Out of frustration, she demanded that her dad do something to “punish” him and “fix him up once and for all!” Bob, who had known for years that his son was suffering from a certain mental disorder that had been bothering him since he entered university, gave Stephanie a little hug and said, “Stephanie, you know how much mom and dad love you and how pleased we are that you continue to grow in faith. As for your brother Jack, the one who judges is the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 4:4) and we know the Lord is kind, patient, and merciful. Let’s just follow Jesus, who loves us not because we are good and righteous but because we are sinners. If Jesus forgives us even if we continue to sin against him, let’s also forgive your brother and love him even more in his times of hardship.”

Let’s conclude this Sunday reflection with a prayer:

Have mercy on us, O God!
Look not on our sins and destroy us not for the sake of Your Son’s sorrowful passion!
“If you, Lord, mark our sins, who can stand?” (Psalm 130:3)
Help us forgive those who trespass against us,
The way you forgive us who trespass against you!

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