We’ve all been in situations in which someone has hurt or injured us. Sometimes we find it difficult or even impossible to forgive the offender. Or perhaps we have been the one who has done the hurting. Whichever the case, we have all had to deal with people who “sin against us.”
The early Christian community had similar difficulties. In the midst of the turmoil that accompanied the transition between Judaism and early Christianity, and under the pressure of persecution, they had to deal with the question of what to do with those who had sinned against them. Matthew drew on his Jewish heritage to offer ways to welcome back a member of the community: first, try to speak with the one who has harmed you one on one; then invite friends or witnesses to mediate if necessary; and finally, go to the Church community for support to aid you in the disputed matter. Throughout the process, be mindful that God has given you the power to “bind and loose” your grievances.
When we bind the sins against us, we are holding on to grievances and are unable to release ourselves and others. Our own anger can eat away at our body and spirit. By loosing sins, we are able to let go and forgive. We can free ourselves from carrying this burden and free others from carrying it as well.
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18: 18),
This is great advice! But great advice isn’t always as easy as it sounds. When we are hurt, we want little or nothing to do with the one who has hurt us. We may bottle the pain up inside or speak about it to anyone but the one who has harmed us. The Gospel teaches us to air out the issue. If the person does not hear us, the Gospel says to go to the community for help. This shows that forgiveness is a process. Forgiving and forgetting are not the same things. Forgiving is recognizing that those who have caused us pain are also loved and created by God. This God is calling both them and us into new and greater life.
In what situation have you found it difficult to forgive? Where is that situation now?23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Church, community, forgiveness, Good News, Gospel, Gospel According to Matthew, process of forgiveness, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, Sunday Gospel, welcome, Word of God
“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’ He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’” (Matthew 16: 21-23)
Last Sunday, Peter was the “rock” that Jesus would build his Church upon. He was called to be the foundation for the Church and his witness would nourish the Church forever. Rocks, however, can also be obstacles.
Jesus’s reaction to Peter shows Peter’s transformation from a “rock” to a “stumbling block.” Peter was observing and judging Jesus through human eyes. Looking at it from the human perspective, it does not make sense to suffer. “God forbid, Lord!” However, instead of looking at it with human eyes, Jesus wanted Peter to judge things with the eyes of God.
Jesus is prompting us to do so as well. When seen through the eyes of God, dying or letting go of something is the bridge to new and greater life.
How often do we see the world through human eyes? As humans, we want to alleviate pain. By seeing the world through God’s eyes, we see that suffering is not the end. Times of suffering or letting go of something have the potential to become moments for transformation. Those moments in which we are broken open are moments when we are open to new possibilities and new life.
If we see things with human eyes, we can lose our foundation. Not only will we ourselves begin to crumble, but we can cause others to trip and fall. Yet, when we see things through the eyes of God, and act accordingly, then we will share in the strength of God, and become a rock for ourselves and for others.
Look at how you respond to life’s challenges. Do you do so as a “rock” or as a “stumbling block?”"get behind me Satan", 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bible, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, disciples, eyes of God, God forbid Lord, Good News, Gospel, Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus Christ, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, Sunday Gospel, Word of God
“When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’” (Matthew 16: 13-17)
Jesus’ way of teaching was usually by telling stories and asking questions. He didn’t lecture but created a dialogue with his disciples in order for them to gain deeper understanding. Today’s reading begins with Jesus asking his disciples who the people say the Son of Man is. They answered him with various prophets. Like these prophets, Jesus brought messages from God. But Jesus was not only a prophet.
Jesus, the good teacher, proposed another question to his disciples in response to their answer. Simon Peter spoke for all the disciples and answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This answer shows just how close to Jesus they were, and how well they had come to know him. Like the crowds, they had seen Jesus perform miracles and had heard his parables. However, they had also been given private explanations of his teachings. Through God’s grace, they had been given a very special gift: recognizing Jesus the Messiah.
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Matthew 16:17).
This is what greatness looks like in the kingdom of heaven. It is not in moving mountains but is born when God comes to dwell within us and when God reveals himself to the world through us. We become what we are meant to be when we become mirrors who reflect the glory of God.
Grace can be seen in Simon Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question. Grace in the disciples comes not just from hearing Jesus preach, but also from living with him – inviting him into the ordinary times of life, recognizing him as a constant companion, and having conversations with him not only when things are rough, but also when things are good.
Today we must remember that and commit ourselves to setting our own wills aside so that God can make himself known to the world through our words and actions.
If others were to guess who you think Jesus is, based on how you talk about him, would they guess correctly?21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bible, catholic RENEW program, Good News, Gospel, Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Messiah, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Simon Peter, Son of the living God, Who do you say that I am
Today we celebrate an event that took place at the end of the Virgin Mary’s life on earth.
The Canaanite woman’s appeal is not an unusual one. Many times throughout the Gospels we find people petitioning Jesus to heal their loved ones. In this instance, however, Jesus’ response is surprising. He is unconcerned and becomes quite hostile as her pleas continue. Jesus tells her, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” But she will not be deterred and continues her pleas. The Canaanite woman finally perseveres, and her daughter is healed.
So, why was Jesus so unreceptive to the woman in the beginning? The context of this Gospel gives us the answer. The majority of Matthew’s audiences are converts to Christianity from Judaism. This passage reflects an understandable presumption from this group that Jesus’ message was meant only for the Jews. This community also included Gentiles, converts from paganism. These two groups, who were so different in their religious backgrounds and culture, were united in their profession of the Christian faith and became the new People of God.
The manner in which this encounter unfolds depicts this struggle. Jesus, as a Jewish male, is at risk of becoming “unclean” by speaking with a Canaanite woman. Yet through his conversation with this “untouchable” woman, we witness a change in Jesus’ responses. It is here that we come to recognize the inclusive love intended for the Jews was meant for the Gentiles as well.
“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” (Matthew 15: 28).
It’s the intensity of the Canaanite woman’s conviction and the passion of her faith that enabled Jesus to change his perception in the end.
So what is Matthew challenging us to learn through this episode? Should we question the way we listen to some voices and not others? Are there certain people or messages that are difficult for us to hear? If we take this story to heart,the witness of Jesus urges us to expect the call to conversion in some of the most unlikely places, and to be attentive when we hear it.20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bible, Canaanite woman, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, daughter, faith, Gentiles, Gospel According to Matthew, healing, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jews, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, Sunday Gospel, Word of God
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