Thursday, August 11, 2011

Focusing on Forgiveness and Responding to God's Initiative

Holy Mother Church picked a Gospel reading wherein Jesus talks about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-19:1) for the day after Ann Voskamp wrote about the grace of forgiveness.

And I can't help but wonder at the timing of these words, His Word and her words, and Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis' words all converging at this time. There were several lines in the Commentary on Matthew that struck me as I was reading last night; here is just one of them, and a short reflection:

"The only reason I can forgive,
have mercy, 
be compassionate,
perform a work of holiness,
is that God has done these things toward me first." (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word II, 645)

God's initiative always precedes and far exceeds my own, which is never more than a response. What is my response to be, then?  Praise? Thanksgiving? Adoration? Imitation? Participation? Ideally, my response contains elements from all of the above.

A teacher of mine once challenged his class to think of the praise, thanksgiving, and adoration that we ought to give to God not so much in terms of words, but in terms of right living. Lip service is no good. The words we speak, the prayers we say, the praises we sing...all must be undergirded by our whole being, heart, mind, and soul all working together for the glory of God.

Blessed be God forever, for ages unending, Amen!

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