With You, God, is Forgiveness

Homily for Friday of the 1st Week in Lent

The demands of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount seem to be way beyond most of us. Our minds are always at work. How can we possibly be free of all vengeful, unkind, and even lustful thoughts? Involuntarily, at least, if not more purposefully, such thoughts float through our minds and hearts. They constitute one big cross in our interior life. On the one hand, we are responsible, as Ezekiel emphasizes; we can choose good or bad. On the other hand, we don’t seem able to do all that is asked of us. We don’t always make the right choices.

The words of Jesus in today’s gospel are pretty dire in their warnings about the consequences of our failures. We can sympathize with the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ teaching in chapter nineteen. “Who can be saved?” If our minds and hearts must be as free as Jesus demands of thoughts of vengeance, resentment, judgment, lust, and ill will, who can be saved?

Jesus told us how. With God all things are possible. In these words lie our hope. The solution to our inability to live up to the high ideals of the Sermon on the Mount lies in trust in God’s forgiveness and saving help. As the responsorial psalm prays, “If you, O Lord, mark iniquity, Lord who can stand? But with you is forgiveness.”

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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