The cross of difficulty and the need to forgive

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The cross of difficulty and the need to forgive

Posted: Sat, 05 Sep 2020 07:03

The cross of difficulty and the need to forgive

Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB looks at the lessons for us in the Gospel for 23rd Sunday of the Year: Matthew 18: 15-20

We were told last week to "take up your cross" and follow Jesus. It is a challenge that all of us, rightly, find hard; it unsettles us, but as the Jesuit peace-broker, Daniel Berrigan SJ put it, "don't follow Jesus unless you look good on wood!" This week the Gospel seems like an episode of the courtroom drama, 'Law and Order'; Jesus speaks to his followers about compromise and listening to each other in the midst of disputes, rows and arguments.

We may know people, perhaps we live with them, who see themselves as totally right all the time. The world tends to revolve around them and you find it is either their way or the highway! Compromise or compassion does not seem to enter their vocabulary. We can find ourselves giving in to this subtle form of bullying or control for the sake of 'peace in the house.' Matthew rightly reflects the tensions and difficulties that he and his community have to face. The theme of forgiveness or 'looseness' is again central; no matter how hard it might be, Jesus wants us to forgive the brother or sister who makes our lives difficult, perhaps even impossible. The challenge and 'cross of difficulty' is there to be taken up, as we remember that is often those close to us who bring us pain. One of the additional horrors of the Covid-19 pandemic is the reported increase in domestic abuse: partners who once deeply loved each other are now victims of physical or psychological bullying-at the hands of the very partner they vowed love to. In this scenario, lockdown and enforced living together has brought out the worst and the people have suffered.

In the face of community problems, ends our Gospel today with the promise of Jesus, "I will be with you!" I will be with you, he tells us:

  • When you gather in community and family
  • When you gather for prayer
  • When you gather for Eucharist
  • When you encourage and support
  • When you build bridges instead of walls
  • When you listen
  • When you support and volunteer
  • When you build up the Body of Christ.

For those really hurting today, Jesus assures is that he is there in the pain and brokenness that the cross call us to.

This week's challenge is to be part of that solution of building up our Church and parish family as we re-enter the world of normality in our schools and places of work. We all have been hurt and slighted in some way by this horrendous experience, are you prepared to forgive today?

The Lord never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.

A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.

Pope Francis

We were told last week to "take up your cross" and follow Jesus. It is a challenge that all of us, rightly, find hard; it unsettles us, but as the Jesuit peace-broker, Daniel Berriggan SJ puts it, "don't follow Jesus unless you look good on wood!" This week the Gospel seems like an episode of the courtroom drama, 'Law and Order'; Jesus speaks to his followers about compromise and listening to each other in the midst of disputes, rows and arguments.

We may know people, perhaps we live with them, who see themselves as totally right all the time. The world tends to revolve around them and you find it is either their way or the highway! Compromise or compassion does not seem to enter their vocabulary. We can find ourselves giving in to this subtle form of bullying or control for the sake of 'peace in the house.' Matthew rightly reflects the tensions and difficulties that he and his community have to face. The theme of forgiveness or 'looseness' is again central; no matter how hard it might be, Jesus wants us to forgive the brother or sister who makes our lives difficult, perhaps even impossible. The challenge and 'cross of difficulty' is there to be taken up, as we remember that is often those close to us who bring us pain. One of the additional horrors of the Covid-19 pandemic is the reported increase in domestic abuse: partners who once deeply loved each other are now victims of physical or psychological bullying-at the hands of the very partner they vowed love to. In this scenario, lockdown and enforced living together has brought out the worst and the people have suffered.

In the face of community problems, ends our Gospel today with the promise of Jesus, "I will be with you!" I will be with you, he tells us:

· When you gather in community and family

· When you gather for prayer

· When you gather for Eucharist

· When you encourage and support

· When you build bridges instead of walls

· When you listen

· When you support and volunteer

· When you build up the Body of Christ.

For those really hurting today, Jesus assures is that he is there in the pain and brokenness that the cross call us to.

This week's challenge is to be part of that solution of building up our Church and parish family as we re-enter the world of normality in our schools and places of work. We all have been hurt and slighted in some way by this horrendous experience, are you prepared to forgive today?

The Lord never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.

A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.

Pope Francis

Tags: Gospel, Homepage, Prayer, Salesian Spirituality, Salesians of Don Bosco