Forgiveness

Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time 
October 6, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 86 which, following our first reading about vindictive Jonah, shows us a heart converted to mercy.

These readings are so powerful. I think a little “Jonah” lives in most of us – that part of us that wants “them” to get what they deserve. We can’t quite get ourselves to want “them”, instead, to receive the unmerited mercy of God.

In our first reading, God tries to help stingy-hearted Jonah face his unforgiveness toward the Ninevites.

Our psalm, on the other hand, is prayed by a humble servant who understands forgiveness because they need it themselves.

Have mercy on me, O Lord,
    for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
    for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
    abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
    and attend to the sound of my pleading.

Psalm 86: 3-6

Psalm 86 invites us to grow in our spiritual life in two ways:

  • to recognize our need for forgiveness because we are not without sin
  • to extend that forgiving desire to those who have sinned against us

It is the lesson Jesus affirms in today’s Gospel:

Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say:
    Father, hallowed be your name,
        your Kingdom come.
        Give us each day our daily bread
        and forgive us our sins
        for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”


Poetry: Forgiveness – John Greenleaf Whittier

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

Music: Lord, Teach Us to Pray – Joe Wise

Lord, teach us to pray…

It’s been a long and cold December kind of day.
With our hearts and hands all busy in our private little wars.
We stand and watch each other now from separate shores.
We lose the way.

I need to know today the way things should be in my head.
I need to know for once now the things that should be said.
I’ve got to learn to walk around as if I were not dead.
I’ve got to find a way to learn to live. (Refrain)

I still get so distracted by the color of my skin.
I still get so upset now when I find that I don’t win.
I meet so many strangers—I’m slow to take them in.
I’ve got to find a way to really live. (Refrain)

I stand so safe and sterile as I watch a man fall flat.
I’m silent with a man who’d like to know just where I’m at.
With the aged and the lonely I can barely tip my hat.
I need to see the sin of “I don’t care.” (Refrain)

I stand so smug and sure before the people I’ve out-guessed.
To let a man be who he is I still see as a test.
And when it all comes down to “must,” I’m sure my way is best.
I’ve got to find what “room” means in my heart. (Refrain)

Lord, teach us to pray.
We believe that we can find a better way.
Teach us to pray. We lose the way.
Teach us to pray.

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