From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
September 13 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings this week continue the theme of reconciliation and healing wounds. The responsorial psalm captures the essence of the twin concepts expressed throughout the readings. “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.” We must let go of our anger and forgive those who have wronged us. This is where reconciliation begins. Jesus’s response to Peter’s question in the gospel suggests that forgiveness does not end. We continue to forgive with grace and mercy for as long as it takes. Forgiveness is perhaps the hardest virtue to grasp after humility. Humility calls us to set our pride and self-centeredness aside. Forgiveness calls us to set our anger, our envy and our judgement of others aside. We need to both forgive and learn to accept forgiveness.
As Vincentians, we face many times when those we help fail to meet our expectations of their response to the help we give. Perhaps they make unwise decisions. Maybe they misuse the money we give them. Perhaps they flat out lie to us. It is easy and tempting to simply write them off and move on to the next person. The hard thing to do is to forgive them, and to continue to try and find ways to help them and move them to a better place in their lives. Forgiveness, mercy and compassion insist that we do exactly that though. But St. Vincent also reminds us that they are our masters and they offer their forgiveness to us. Forgiveness for what, you might ask? It is their forgiveness for the judgements we make of them. Forgiveness for our intruding into their vulnerabilities even when we are invited in. Forgiveness for our participation in systems that force them into and keep them in poverty so often. It is that forgiveness that may be hardest for us to shoulder. When have we been challenged to continue in ministry, to set aside our distrust, our hurt, and our self-righteousness so that we might continue to extend God’s love and compassion to others? When have I taken the time to see my interactions with the poor through the lens of their lives?
Father, grace me with the virtue of gentleness and meekness that I may find patience when I feel wounded or hurt. Allow me to replace my anger with mercy and compassion, that I may continually focus on the pains others are feeling even when I am wronged by them. Give me the courage to never let go of extending your love and forgiveness to all without condition or reservation. Give me understanding of the pain, the fear and the loss of hope others feel in poverty. Allow me the grace to accept their forgiveness of me, that I may more fully appreciate the grace of Your forgiveness of me. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen