Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday word, 26 Feb 2008

Tuesday, Third Week of Lent (26 Feb 2008) Dn 3.25,34-43; Ps 25; Mt 18.21-35
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Logic of Kingdom Living

Matthew’s is the gospel of the church. It was the favorite gospel of the 2d-century church, to which early church leaders alluded and from which they taught. A prominent feature in this Gospel of the Church is forgiveness.

The God of Abraham was known as a forgiving and compassionate God. Daniel recalled the covenant which God offered Abraham and called on God to abide by it. Anyone--including each of us--has access to God’s compassionate fidelity in the 25th psalm, which we echoed: Remember your mercies, O Lord! ...Remember your compassion...and show [me your] way.

Covenants bind all parties. Jesus offered us a shorthand to covenantal love, which God both offers and expects of us, when he taught us to pray: forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors/1/. Debts is a metaphor for sins: what we owe God. The metaphor makes sin concrete and not abstract. Later, when Jesus healed and forgave, he authorized the prayer he taught his disciples as well as his actions when he healed in that moment and in the future.

You recall that to the paralyzed man brought to him, Jesus said, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” Some of the scribes reacted that Jesus had blasphemed. Jesus answered, “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk ?’”

Because no one can see sins forgiven, it is easy to say that. A visible result must follow ‘Rise and walk’ if one can both say and mean it. Because Jesus could do the more difficult thing, then surely he could do the easier. That’s the logic of Jewish religious thinking.

Forgiveness is difficult for us because it is difficult both to feel and to show the letting go, which forgiveness entails. Yet, that is of less consequence than not receiving and hearing Jesus’ invitation to inherit the kingdom prepared for [us] from the foundation of the world./3/ Forgiveness is the key to that kingdom, which turns on compassion: the compassion we receive, which we hasten to show others.
/1/ Matthew 6.12.
/2/ Matthew 9.2-6.
/3/ Matthew 25.34.
Wiki-image of Domenico's Two Debtors is in the public domain.

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