"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fr. Voigt, "Forgiveness & Seventy Times Seven"

Fr. Voigt, "Forgiveness & Seventy Times Seven"
In a philosophical reflection from Blaise Pascal's Les Penses, we learn that "Our attitude is more important than the fact."  What happens to us is not as important as our attitude in responding to the fact.  Our Lord has just told St. Peter that we must be willing to forgive our offending brother not seven times but seventy times seven.  Since seven is the perfect number then we have fallen into a question of our attitude towards the offender.  I may not be able to change the offender nor the action which offended me but I can change me.

How can I change when I have been offended?  Turn your hearts eyes to the Crucified Savior Whose first words from the Cross were:  "Father, forgive them.  They know not what they do."  I put my experience through the funnel of the sufferings of Christ and I can forgive anyone anything.  It takes time but it works.  There is nothing in this world that is so serious that it cannot be forgiven.  In the forgiveness of the offense, on my part, then by God's grace I am constructing the bridge that will allow me to cross from this world of offenses to the world of pardon, i.e. heaven and union with God.

In our reflection, we must come to the admission that of ourselves we cannot do it.  We are so stuck on our own importance that we easily want to crucify our offenders.  This is what is means to be a fallen human being.  We are marked with the seven capital sins founded upon our pride.  Humility can conquer our pride if we practice the Gospel message of this day.
Our offenses against the Love of God are enormous and infinite in their expiation.  We cannot pay the debt our sinful past has incurred.  So what do we do?  We fall prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and plead for forgiveness.  We confess our sins to the priest and desire to change our lives.

Amazingly, God forgives us everything and asks that we follow His good example when we must relate to those who offend us in this lifetime of ours.  Their offense against us is so petty and cheap so why do we become so uptight that we will intellectually throttle them (so to speak).  The answer lies in the reflection of the great confessor of souls, St. Philip Neri.  He stated that every sin is due to a lack of humility.  We do not see ourselves for what we truly are: dust and ashes.

Consider the example of the king of Nineveh who believed the prophet and asked all his kingdom to fast, to put on sackcloth and ashes.  The kingdom humbled itself and was spared by God.  So shall we be spared by God if we follow the example of this man king.
The question rings eternally in our ears:  "Should you not forgive your brother as I have forgiven you your entire debt?"  Our cry is 'yes'.  I want to forgive all.  May the power of the forgiveness of Christ conquer the attitude of pride and replace that pride with the virtue of humility. 

In the hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

Fr. Richard Voigt


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