Living the Gospel – February 24, 2019

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“To you who HEAR, I say…”

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “Lectio Divina.” It is a form of prayer where one reads a passage of Scripture, then chooses a word or phrase that invites them to ponder and pray about. The opening words of today’s Gospel reading hit me “like a ton of bricks.”

“To you who HEAR, I say…”

This is not an easy Scriptural lesson, but it is straight from the lips of Jesus—it is the ethics of the reign of God and we can choose to HEAR it and live by it or to turn a deaf ear and live according to secular criteria: “He/she did it to me; therefore it’s only fair and just for me to be resentful and want revenge!”

I thought of all the Advice columns I like to read—Dear Abby or Dear Amy. Just read them for a week. There are usually two new letters and then a comment on one of her earlier responses. So many are little things, but they cause discord among family members or friends. “We invite them to dinner; they never reciprocate! We’re tired of it!” Is that enough to end a friendship of years? “I send my grandchildren gift cards for Christmas and Birthdays. I never get a thank you!” Teaching moments—not one to cause discord or unhappiness! On and on it goes.

Then there are the “big ones.” St. John Paul II went to the prison to forgive the man who shot him. There are times when you read about “Mr. or Mrs. Everyday” who did the same thing to someone who caused them injury or injury to someone they love–or worse yet, killed someone they loved. Author Matthew Kelly writes about “Holy Moments.” Can you think of any moment more holy than forgiving someone who has caused you such pain? Psychologists say that such forgiveness not only brings some peace to the perpetrator, but to the person who does the forgiving. (And what an example to the rest of us!). But the forgiveness must be without “attached strings.” I do not remember all the details as I read this years and years ago. I believe it was a drunk driving accident where a young girl was killed. Her mother went to the prison to tell the driver that she forgave him, BUT with the stipulation that every year on the anniversary of the accident, he was to send her a penny. She did not want her daughter to be forgotten. Could he ever forget? Would she ever forget her daughter? I remember this part so vividly because even at the time, I could not see this as true forgiveness.

And Christ tells us not to judge or that we will be judged likewise. Some actions need to be judged, to be corrected. Can we turn them into teachable moments rather than times of condemnation?

Yes, as we listen to the voice of Jesus, this entire lesson gives us a lot to ponder and pray over! Perhaps with the onset of Lent not too far away, we can practice Lectio Divina with this passage taking it line by line.

Linda Caminiti