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Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 1:1-7 & LK. 17:1-6

The Book of Wisdom, which we begin reading today, was written 100 years before Christ in Alexandria, in Egypt, where there was a large Jewish population. Its purpose was to encourage a people who had experienced suffering and opposition, as well as to offset certain philosophies which were at odds with the Jewish faith.

As it opens the author is concerned that the people remember the basic truth that God must come first in their lives. Any approach to life which ignores God or puts Him in the background is not wise nor sound.

Jesus gives the same warning in the Gospel when He speaks of scandals – a word which literally means a stumbling block or obstacle and refers here to any teaching or action which could come between us and God.

The warning is not without meaning today. We live in a society in which values opposed to those of the Gospel are constantly promoted. This is especially true of advertising which would have us believe that happiness comes from what money can buy, that personal attractiveness is the result of cosmetics and that life is only concerned with self-gratification. The moral and good purpose of advertising is to allow people a choice, not to create a desire for superfluous things and to make necessities of luxuries.

It is a wise person who chooses to live simply and humbly while making sure in all things that God and His values come first in their lives.

The rabbis maintained that if you forgive a person three times you would be considered perfect. Jesus tells His disciples that they must forgive a person 70 times seven, in other words always. This may seem impossible to us but Jesus has shown us how to forgive. When He was nailed to His Cross He prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Is there any better example of forgiveness than that?

Like the Apostles we, too, know just how hard it is to overcome any hurt or injustice done to us. To forgive another sometimes can be the hardest thing for us to do, but we must forgive if we are to be followers of Christ. Like the Apostles we need to ask for increased faith! The call to forgiveness may seem just as impossible as trying to uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea. But Jesus teaches us that with even the smallest faith we can accomplish great things.

Therefore, we ask Jesus to increase our faith by opening our eyes to His power and presence within us. The more we believe that we are nothing less than temples of the Holy Spirit, the more confident will be that following His call to forgive is a very real possibility.

Is there any old wound, some affront or injury, for which you have not been able to forgive someone? Then say to Jesus. 'This is impossible for me! But for You all things are possible. I surrender this issue to You and ask for the grace and power to forgive.' It may be in the beginning that we can only ask God to make us want to be willing to forgive. Jesus will take us wherever we are and help us to take the next step on the journey to full forgiveness.

Father, we thank You for Your great mercy in sending us Your Son. By His great sacrifice on the Cross, He has forgiven and cleansed us completely. Now, we ask You to help us forgive others as fully as You have forgiven us.

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