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Tuesday, third week of Lent

March 29, 2011

Blessed Tuesday!

Lord, You call us to Your service
and continue Your saving work among us.
May Your love never abandon us.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for today’s Mass)

Daniel 3:25, 34-43 (Azariah’s prayer for mercy in the fiery furnace)
Psalm 25: 4-9 “Remember Your mercies, Lord”
+Matthew 18:21-35 (forgive seventy times seven times)

Offer it up

That’s what Azariah, Hananiah and Mishael (aka Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego)
were doing in the fiery furnace.

But with contrite heart and humble spirit, let us be received;
as though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
so let our sacrifice be in Your Presence today
-Daniel 3:39-40

These exiled princes of Israel were offering their sufferings
in payment of the national spiritual debt,
receiving from God’s hand the penalty
that would allow their countrymen to go free

The king in Jesus’ parable did something similar.
Having suffered the loss of an enormous sum of money to one of his subjects,
he wrote off the debt.
He took on himself the penalty that would allow his subject to go free.

And this, of course, is exactly what Jesus did on Calvary.
He took upon Himself the penalty
that set us free.

As sons and daughters of this magnanimous God,
we are challenged to do the same.

But if we are children, we are heirs as well:
heirs of God, heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with Him so as to be glorified with Him.
-Romans 8:17

We suffer with Him by uniting our sufferings with His,
by offering them to Him and bearing them lovingly and willingly with Him,
trusting that He will use our sufferings,
even as He used the sufferings of Azariah, Hananiah and Mishael
and as He used the sufferings of Christ,
to redeem our sin-sick world.

Then we can say with St. Paul:

Even now I find joy in the suffering I endure for you.
In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ
for the sake of His Body, the Church.
-Colossians 1:24

Suffering brings joy
when it sets people free.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,
Who inspires and perfect our faith.
For the sake of the joy which lay before Him
He endured the cross, heedless of its shame
-Hebrews 12:2

Forgiveness is simply a specific example of this suffering,
of bearing the penalty due to another so that they can go free.

It, too, united to the Cross of Christ, brings joy.

This is why Jesus could challenge us to forgive seventy times seven.
He wanted us to share in His joy…seventy times seven.

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