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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homily: Matthew 5 - On Reconciliation

I gave this homily at daily Mass on Thursday, July 10th on the subject of reconciling one's anger with one's brother or sister before approacing the altar of the Lord.

I have a bit of Irish blood in me so it is very natural for me to hold onto grudges. Sometimes I feel hypocritical about my actions as I pit it against this reading. How about you? Are you all in right relationship with meaningful people in your lives? Does anyone here have a grudge they are harboring against a neighbor?

I would feel hypocritical if I was in total agreement with the Gospel passage. I am not saying that Jesus got it wrong, and I will say that I am in fundamental agreement with the deeper meaning he is trying to convey. I guess I differ in how I hear people interpret how our actions should look as we fulfill this teaching. The church teaches us that we are to be a reconciling people, but I contend that we do not fully comprehend the intricacies of reconciliation and we make it seem all too simple – and we are made to feel that there is something wrong with us if we can’t reconcile. The point is the Jesus wants us to be in right relations with our brothers and sisters, with a clear conscience, with a clean heart, as we approach the altar. Our right relations will be testimony to the integrity of our worship. That’s the deeper part. Our right relations will be testimony to the integrity of our worship. T

There are two problems our interpretation of the passage:

1. We fail to recognize the complexity of reconciliation and the fact that it is really a gift from God. Since we are only one part of the relationship, and we can seldom accurately predict how another person will respond, we can only do our part, and then place it in the hands of God. Reconciliation may be a lengthy process that is largely out of our control, yet we have to be as active as we can be to bring about the unity that God wants. God, though, is steadfast and patient, and God knows these types of problems aren’t solved overnight.
It takes great effort first to:

understand our feelings,
deal with our emotions,
hope for some good in the future,
have courage to take an initial step,
wait for a response,
enter into true meaningful dialogue in which we listen to the other person,
and become enriched through his vulnerable process.

It is quite complex, which leads me to my second and the more important point.

2. I would never get to the altar if it was left entirely to my control to reconcile first. The point is: I need the altar. I need to go to the altar day after day – so that I can reconcile with my brother or sister. I need the altar to make sense of my life so that I can become the righteous person God wants me to be. I need God to make sense of the chaos that I can’t comprehend. I simply can’t wait.

I go to the altar because I meet God there. I bring my hopes and joys, my struggles and chaos. I bring my very self – at my best and at my worst – and I let God work through me. As I age, I realize just how much I need God. As I mature, I realize that life is much easier when I let God work through me.

So, how about you? Are you ready to join me at the altar – with all our warts and beauty – with the incompleteness of our efforts - to let God more deeply enter into our lives? I hope so.

Father Predmore

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