Reflection for Friday, February 23, 2018: 1st Week in Lent.
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|The Gospel reading from Matthew reminded me of my dad. He was one of the few non-lawyer judicial magistrates appointed to the bench in Iowa. In my home town of Le Mars, he handled everything from traffic violations to a small claims court. He loved it, as he always wanted to be a lawyer, and in fact, he is the one who urged me to go to law school.|When I would come home to see my parents on weekends, he would often tell me about some of the small claim court cases he heard and his story usually included his trademark line. After he heard both sides of the case he would say to the contestants, "You both did a wonderful job presenting your side of the case. Now, I am going to go into chambers and when I come out I will have made my decision. One of you will win and one will lose. But if the two of you can sit down and work this out while I am in chambers, you both will end up winners and may even become friends."|My dad said that, usually before he even finished his first cup of coffee talking with the bailiff, there would be a knock on the door and the contestants would tell him they had agreed between themselves to settle their differences, there was no need for him to make a decision, and they wanted to dismiss the case.|Could that be what we also see in today's Gospel reading? Is the Lord saying, if you want to bring to me the trespasses that have been made against you for adjudication, so be it, but one of you may be headed to the fiery Gehenna, and one of you may enter the Kingdom of heaven?|Like the litigants in my dad's courtroom, maybe it is better for us, too, to settle our differences and forgive those we feel have trespassed against us, vs. rolling the dice that the Lord will see it our way on judgement day, and that we were right in not forgiving our neighbor, and our neighbor was wrong.|As we do our daily Examen of Conscience, we can ask ourselves how willing we are to forgive. Are we always willing to forgive the little things – like someone we don't know and will likely never see again holding up the checkout line at the grocery store – but not the person who criticized, and maybe rightfully so, for something we did at work? We can ask ourselves if God is so willing to forgive us for our sins and we want to model our behavior in his image, why is it so hard for us to forgive those who have trespassed against us? Forgiving is fun. Forgiving is empowering. If we try it, we will like it. |So as we continue on our Lenten journey, if we have not yet made up our mind about what to give up for Lent, maybe holding grudges would be appropriate. Learning to be more forgiving with be a great Lenten grace.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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