Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
The Gospel hit me square in the face today because I had an issue with my very own brother for decades of my life. Peter asked Jesus:
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times."
And this Gospel goes hand in hand with Matthew 6:14-15:
"If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
I have not gotten along with my brother for most of my life - probably since I was in my late teens/early 20's. He is a big drinker and it definitely impacted how I felt about him. To be completely honest, I didn't like him. He was mean when he drank and he drank a lot. And as I got older, I was not shy at all about how I felt about him. I didn't like him and my entire family knew it, so did he. I used to dread when we would have family parties and stayed far away from him as a result.
I reverted back to my faith at the ripe old age of 42 and in the first few months of my journey, when I started reading scripture and listening to Catholic radio, I started hearing that I must forgive my brother. I mean literally, my very own brother! So, I tried to do just that. I kept trying to forgive him, but I still had that dark place in my heart for him. I wasn't able to put aside how he acted and 'hate the sin, not the sinner'… and I still resented him.
But I also knew that if I didn't forgive him then God would not forgive me and that was some serious stuff for me to deal with because I knew how much I needed confession and God's mercy. So, I decided to pray for forgiveness, to ask God to give me the grace to forgive and love my brother and to put all the animosity behind me. I prayed for this for a few months.
Then one day, God put it in my heart to hug him 'hello' at a party. He was surprised and just sat there like a statue in complete shock. I was quite shocked myself. Then the next time I would kiss him and hug him and then it just became a normal way of saying 'hello' and 'good-bye'. He eventually responded and would hug and kiss me back. We would even say, "I love you," to each other!
As time went on, I invited him and his wife over to our house and my husband and I would go out with them more and more. I truly began to love him and care about him. He is still drinking, but that doesn't matter. Our relationship has changed so much, it is like night and day and it is so awesome! God answered my prayers and my love toward my brother softened his heart and we genuinely love and care for each other now. My mom is more than thrilled, let me tell you.
So, if you are struggling with forgiveness in the depths of your heart, please, do yourself a favor and ask God to help you forgive and love that person again. It is what we are called to do, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" especially our own family!
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Is there a person in my life that I am struggling to forgive? How come?
How am I in need of forgiveness from a "brother"? From the Lord?
How can I begin to rely more on God to grow in my ability, and even desire, to forgive those who have hurt me?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Let me forgive."
"Thank you for loving me."
"Soften my heart, Lord."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Begin the process of asking for or offering forgiveness to just one person in your life. Ask God to give you the grace to be open to forgiving someone, or the grace to be humble in asking for forgiveness. If you aren't ready to have a conversation with someone, at least be open to starting the process by asking for God's assistance. If you do feel ready, reach out to that person to offer or ask for forgiveness however you see fit. And always, always, be thankful to the Lord for giving you the ability to forgive and be forgiven.
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Today’s Prayer was prepared by Kendra Von Esh, a Speaker and Author, inspiring others to lead with compassion and enrich their lives through faith and prayer.
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