a pity party
"Moved with pity, the master let the official go and wrote off the debt." —Matthew 18:27
The Lord God is "moved with pity" when we humbly beg Him to have mercy on us (Mt 18:27). He is so moved when someone asks Him for forgiveness that He celebrates (Lk 15:23) and rejoices (Lk 15:10). Father Al Lauer, long-time author of One Bread, One Body, was fond of quoting the saying, "To err is human, to forgive is divine." God's nature toward pleas for forgiveness from repeat offenders is to be moved with pity, while our human nature tends toward anger and vengeance. Only by sharing in God's divine nature (see 2 Pt 1:4) through living our Baptism can we hope to be moved with pity instead of self-righteousness when asked to forgive someone from the heart (Mt 18:35), that is, to be moved with heartfelt pity toward them.
If this isn't enough, Jesus in today's parable on forgiveness focuses on a repeat offender. Perhaps we might feel pity on a person who hurt us once or twice. However, only by being immersed in our baptismal graces can we ever forgive from a heart of pity someone who continually "wrongs" us (Mt 18:21). Since our eternal salvation hinges on having a heart of forgiveness toward these people (Mt 18:35), we must beg Jesus to give us His forgiving, pitying, crucified heart. Jesus forgave those who kept hurting Him by praying: "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:35). Right now, repeat Jesus' prayer of forgiveness by replacing the word "them" with the names of all those who have hurt you.
Prayer: Jesus, my heart hurts, but Your heart was pierced for my offenses. Make my heart like Yours, especially in the area of pity.
Promise: "Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know I am with you." —Jos 3:7
Praise: St. Clare expressed her love for God by patiently bearing illness, doing penance, offering prayers, and remaining devoted to her sisters and town.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 8, 2005
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