First Reading: Joshua 3:7-10A, 11, 13-17
The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses. Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant to come to a halt in the Jordan when you reach the edge of the waters.” So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God. This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst, who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites. The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth will precede you into the Jordan. When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD, the Lord of the whole earth, touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow; for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank.” The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan, with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them. No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan, which overflows all its banks during the entire season of the harvest, than the waters flowing from upstream halted, backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed, from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan; while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah disappeared entirely. Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel crossed over on dry ground, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan until the whole nation had completed the passage.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 114:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Alleluia! When Israel came forth from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of alien tongue, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his domain. The sea beheld and fled; Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like the lambs of the flock. Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? You mountains, that you skip like rams? You hills, like the lambs of the flock?
Gospel: Matthew 18:21–19:1
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? 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 his brother from his heart.” When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
A young child struggling to tie her shoes, yet determined. Her parents impatiently demand she “hurry up already!” She just wants a little more time.
A tween, beginning to face the drama in junior high, she struggles with what to wear, wanting to feel good about herself. Mom hollers at her to just get dressed or she’ll miss breakfast before school.
A teen trying so hard to fit in, to find her way, to be strong and self-assured. The girls are clique-ish, the boys are interested in dating not friendship, the teachers’ demands in class are high. She doesn’t want to face the day at school, but be all alone. Her brother demands she get out of bed so they aren’t late.
The young woman who hears a barrage of questions: When are you going to choose a major, get married, have a baby, lose weight, get a better job . . . ???
We’ve faced these and similar situations. We just want our friends and family to be patient with us as we seek to be our best selves, find our way, and more than anything—to be loved.
We, too, need our God to be patient with us. He is. Always loving, always patient, always there to remind us of His constant love, no matter our short-comings.
Oh, the shortcomings are many, are they not? We bring ourselves down with thinking we’re too fat, too thin, too slow, too this, too that. We let others bring us down. We snap back, we gossip, we try to make ourselves feel better. Instead of seeking the love and patience from our Heavenly Father, we fall into the traps and snares of Satan’s lies and hate-talk. We let the debts of our sins pile up and dim the gift of forgiveness that our God has to offer.
My dear sisters, forgiveness is unending. That is what Jesus means to forgive “seven times seventy times.” Yes, we ought always and daily to strive to forgive our friends and family from the depths of our hearts. Yet, are we forgiving ourselves for the self-doubt, the self-hate, the giving into that same sin? Are we patient with ourselves as we grow in grace and holiness? Or are we giving into the lies of Satan who seeks to distract, destroy, bring us down? Take some time today—everyday—to lean back on Jesus. Saints are made when we let His grace be enough, and when we are patient with ourselves as His love works in our hearts.
Let His grace wash over you, and allow yourself forgiveness.
Gina Fensterer is a wife, daughter, mother, friend, homeschooling mama and Colorado native. You can find out more about her here.