Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Wonder If Someone Is Trying to Tell Us Something?

9/11
Flickr photo by Slagheap

Tomorrow is September 11, 2011, the ten-year anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Center (when you drive a jet into a building, as far as I'm concerned, you've turned the plane into a bomb).  Last night at adoration I was looking at the readings for tomorrow.  If you aren't Catholic, let me explain that every Catholic church everywhere in the world reads the same scripture readings every Sunday (and every day during the week, though more variety is allowed during the week).  Those readings are arranged in a book called the Lectionary, which hasn't changed in some time.  There is a three-year cycle, so that what is read on the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (the official Church name for tomorrow) tomorrow is what was read three, six, nine, twelve...years ago.  So, what's up tomorrow?

Reading 1 Sir 27:30-28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor's injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.

Gospel Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?" 
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. 
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants. 
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. 
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt. 
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan. 
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount. 
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused. 
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt. 
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair. 
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! 
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. 
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt. 
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."


(If you aren't familiar with the Catholic mass, there is also a Psalm and New Testament reading but I'm not reprinting them because they don't go to my point; however, you can see them here)

4 comments:

  1. I know. My reflection on the readings talks about the significance of the readings with Sept 11th. God is speaking!!!

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  2. Yes, it's very fitting that we have these scripture readings on the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. One of the Pentagon attack survivors was being interviewed on Mike Huckabee's show tonight, and he commented on how forgiving the attackers and those behind the attacks was his responsibility, though not the government's--whose job it is to protect us.

    In "Mere Christianity," C.S. Lewis honestly acknowledged his uncertainty as to whether he would have been able to forgive the Nazis if he had been a Pole or a Jew, even though as Christians we are commanded to forgive. He pointed out how we all tend to speak of forgiveness as a good thing, yet when we're the ones who have been sinned against, forgiveness is suddenly not such an easy thing. I too have struggled with holding onto grudges at times, and sometimes it seems that while one side knows the need to forgive and is all too ready to do so, another part of my mind insists on ruminating on the wrongs others have committed against me. Can anyone relate to what I'm saying?

    "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..."

    Evan

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  3. Wow. This is truly amazing. There is no doubt God is speaking to this nation through this selection of readings.

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  4. I never got a chance to respond to this last night...it truly is amazing, isn't it? I remember the readings the day before 9/11 (for evening prayer) being about the fall of the proud, and being struck by that as I heard them, and struck anew in the morning.

    Evan makes a good point. I've been struggling with forgiving a group of people (roommates) who did me great wrong well over a decade ago. I keep asking for the grace to let it go, trying to impose the act of will, but to this day I still find myself confused, hurt, and a little angry.

    Still, the fact that it's difficult doesn't mean we're not called to it.

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