November 10, 2008
Saint Leo the Great. Memorial
Luke 17: 1-6
Jesus said to his disciples, "Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him." And the Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you proved your love for me by dying on the Cross. There you also showed me that forgiveness is possible. You are calling me to have a kind and forgiving heart. I believe you can transform my heart into a source of love and pardon.
Petition: Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. Be my strength today and make my faith powerful enough to move mountains.
1. A Light for My Path
“I came that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Whenever Jesus teaches us, he always does so with our eternal life in the forefront of his mind and heart. He loves us and wants us to follow the path that leads us to be with him forever in heaven. Personal sin is the one thing that blocks our passage into life and that leads to spiritual death. Today he gives us a glimpse of the seriousness of sin. He says that physical death is preferable to causing someone to sin. We often are concerned about staying physically healthy, and for good reason. Yet Jesus wants us to be even more concerned about the health of our soul and the souls of others.
2. Lead by Example
When someone hurts us, we feel the sting of rejection. But by rejecting an apology, we would merely be “stinging” in return. Jesus’ coming into the world inaugurated a new way of life. No longer were people to settle for the law of retribution – “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Jesus taught a new way of life, and he showed us how to live it through his own example. Left to our own natural powers we would find it very difficult to forgive once, let alone seven times in a single day. Yet Jesus showed us how to do it. In his agony on the cross, he was not vindictive; he forgave. If we look at a crucifix and remember that Jesus forgave us from the cross, don’t we believe that he will give us the strength to forgive our neighbor?
3. Increase My Faith
Jesus uses the example of uprooting a tree to encourage us to have a strong faith. At the surface, we see only the tree; we don’t see its roots. We have to go below the surface to see them. Our actions can also be considered in this way. People see the visible action we perform, but God sees “below the surface”. He sees the roots of our actions: our motives, deeply rooted in our hearts. Christ invites us to have a faith so strong that it will move the entire tree, including the roots. Faith should affect not only the things we do, but also the reason we do them.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, you tell us that without you we can do nothing. Yet I also know that with you I can do everything you ask of me. Accept all of my actions today, and help me to purify my motives so that everything I do will be guided and sustained by your love.
Resolution: I will go to confession within the next two weeks in order to experience God’s forgiveness.
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