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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Lenten reflection, day 21

I suspect that for many people, the ability to forgive depends on whether they feel life has treated them fairly. Much depends on the kind of relationships we’ve had with our parents and others in our early formation. Limited or limitless forgiveness, the seven times 70 of Christ in today’s Gospel, makes all the difference. 

People in 12-step programs often develop an extraordinary capacity for forgiveness because the program demands acknowledging the wounds inflicted on self and others through one’s addiction. One can argue that the core of Christian faith, let alone Lent, is our conviction that God forgives and loves us first, unconditionally.

God lifts us up from our brokenness and woundedness when we had absolutely no claim on his love and compassion. We celebrate the paschal mystery that is Lent, joyously professing that our God goes all the way for us, even in the face of our failures and sins. The degree to which we can experience this kind of liberation determines our freedom to offer it to others. 

Too many of us are not passionately magnanimous because we never deeply face our own unlovability. On the surface, most of us don’t consider ourselves particularly sinful, so our relationship with God, and consequently with others, remains tepid and superficial.

Lent is all about letting God the Holy Spirit forgive, heal, and love us. Then we can be on fire to proclaim the delirious reconciliation Christ is for all people and the joy of his glorious life, death, and resurrection! Lent is living Easter joy!

Father Francis Gargani, C.Ss.R.
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Scripture readings for today: Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 25; Matthew 18:21-35