Reflections

Thursday of 19th Week of the Year, August 11, 2022

>>> CLARE – Pray for Us!
WE SHOULD ALL BE COMPASSIONATE SERVANTS
Introduction
Though of noble birth and well-educated, Clare (1193-1253) was attracted by the ideals of poverty of St. Francis of Assisi. Against the pressure of her family, she distributed her possessions to the poor and founded the second Franciscan Order of Poor Clares, who dedicate themselves to a life of poverty and prayer. Claire understood that poverty makes a person free for love: to love God undividedly and to be available to our people. Her motto was: “God, I am happy that you created me.” Isn’t that true riches?
 
Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
we thank you today
for the example of St. Clare.
She understood that to possess you,
one has to be free
from things that distract from you.
Grant us too, the riches
of retaining our inner freedom
as regards possessions and attachments
and open us to all the riches
of giving ourselves to you and to people.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: EZEKIEL 12:1-12
The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on, prepare your baggage as though for exile, and again while they are looking on, migrate from where you live to another place; perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on; in the evening, again while they are looking on, you shall go out like one of those driven into exile; while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it; while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness; cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel. I did as I was told. During the day I brought out my baggage as though it were that of an exile, and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness, shouldering my burden. Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house, ask you what you were doing? Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel within it. I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; as captives they shall go into exile. The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug out in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.
 
Responsorial PSALM 78:56-57, 58-59, 61-62
R. (Cf. 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
 
They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High,
and kept not his decrees.
They turned back and were faithless like their fathers;
they recoiled like a treacherous bow. R.
 
They angered him with their high places
and with their idols roused his jealousy.
God heard and was enraged
and utterly rejected Israel. R.
 
And he surrendered his strength into captivity,
his glory in the hands of the foe.
He abandoned his people to the sword
and was enraged against his inheritance. R.
 
Alleluia PSALM 119:135
Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant
and teach me your statutes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
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.
 
Commentary
How Dare You Forgive Me?
How do we understand the psychology of the servant who was forgiven much, but maltreated his own servant who owed him much less? I suspect that he felt humiliated and his narcissistic ego was deeply wounded by the public forgiveness offered by the King. First of all, he hadn’t asked for forgiveness; only for a little more time to pay off his debts. Instead, he was forgiven generously and totally. But such forgiveness can birth gratitude only in a heart that is characterized by humility and openness to the other. In egoistic hearts, it creates only humiliation and self-hate, which must be transformed into hate for the other. And given that he could not take it out on the King, he had to displace the hatred to an inferior over whom he had command. Such souls can only end up in self-made prisons of inner suffering, sadly so.
 
Intercessions
– For the Church, that it may keep itself dedicated to bring reconciliation to its members and to the world, we pray:
– For all Christian Churches, long divided by grudges and pride, that we may be brought together in the unity of one gospel and one love of Christ, we pray:
– For those married couples that live side by side without much love and without communicating, that they may come to forgive, to understand and to appreciate each other again, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
we bring this bread and wine before you
as tokens that all is yours
and that we belong to you.
Fill our empty hands
with the gift of Jesus, your Son.
Make us generous like him,
that we may be one
in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
we admire those who are voluntarily poor
in fact and in spirit,
but often we cannot bring up the courage
to be detached from things that control us.
Help us in the poverty of our hearts
to place ourselves into your hands,
that we may commune with you in love and prayer
and become available to those poor by necessity.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
God has spoken very clearly to us today that we have to become like him, to forget and forgive, to heal and care, and we will be healed ourselves. May God be with you and bless you, that Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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