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Forgiveness and Misplaced Socks

First Reading: Titus 1:1-9

Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ
for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones
and the recognition of religious truth,
in the hope of eternal life
that God, who does not lie, promised before time began,
who indeed at the proper time revealed his word
in the proclamation with which I was entrusted
by the command of God our savior,
to Titus, my true child in our common faith:
grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

For this reason I left you in Crete
so that you might set right what remains to be done
and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you,
on condition that a man be blameless,
married only once, with believing children
who are not accused of licentiousness or rebellious.
For a bishop as God’s steward must be blameless, not arrogant,
not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive,
not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness,
temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled,
holding fast to the true message as taught
so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine
and to refute opponents.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24:1B-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Gospel: Luke 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”

And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

NAB

nov-7

Our Christian faith asks a lot of us. Those unfamiliar with the Faith might claim it asks too much: too many rules, not enough freedoms. But those of us who love the Faith know that everything it requires of us is for our highest good. God isn’t interested in arbitrary rules, but He is very interested in the state of our hearts.

And there may be no command either weightier on our shoulders or more critical for our hearts than the command to forgive as given in today’s Gospel.

I can generally manage to go through my day without committing the sins of murder or theft. (Go ahead, be impressed.) But when my husband leaves his socks on the floor and his dishes on the table for the umpteenth time, I’m inclined to hold on to that twinge of resentment all day long. There is something uniquely sneaky about the sin of unforgiveness. Unlike some of the “bigger” sins, I can too easily harden my heart to the point that I don’t even realize I’m committing it. And later I can convince myself that it’s not that big of a deal.

Now I’m no theologian, but from my reading of the Scriptures it sure seems like Jesus talks more about forgiveness than about murder and theft. It’s only logical to assume He knew which one we’d struggle with more  Seven times in one day, Lord? Seven pairs of socks in the living room? Really?

What is the point of all this forgiveness anyway? Does it really do my husband harm if I’m harboring small resentments against him? Won’t his life go on? Well, yes. But my heart becomes just a little bit more separated from his, and from God’s. Maybe I wouldn’t notice when I go to bed at night, but I sure would notice in ten years when my marriage is on the rocks and the Holy Spirit feels far from me. If our Lord forgave while dying on the cross for the very reason of uniting my heart to His and to humanity, then yes, the distance my unforgiveness inflicts is a very grievous wrong indeed.

Let’s repeat the prayer of the Psalmist: “Lord, we long to see your face.” We simply need to remember that He has already given us a surefire way to do that, and that way is through forgiving.

photo credit

Shannon Evans is a Protestant missionary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. An adoptive and biological mom of two boys, she enjoys hosing mud off children, scrubbing sticky furniture, and rushing to the ER to have nails extracted from small intestines. You can find out more about her here.

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