Talk About Prayer Under Pressure!

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Today’s readings:
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Matthew 18:21-35

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith or on page 9 of the parish bulletin.]

The reflection focuses on the beauty of the prayer of those men in the fire. They praise God and acknowledge their sins in the midst of their suffering instead of begging to be spared from the flames. What grace must have been given for them to be able to pray like that!

Again, (this must be my contrary nature!) I feel drawn more to the Gospel reading than the one picked by the people writing the reflections. But perhaps that’s a good thing… Anyhoo…

I think the Gospel is referring to one of the most dangerous prayers that we tend to say several times a day without thinking about what it is that we are saying: the Our Father. In this prayer, we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”

Did you get that?

We are asking God to treat us the way we treat people who have hurt us.

So…. How well do you treat those who hurt or mistreat you? I think the general tendency is to be like the guy in the Gospel reading, who seized the offender and started to choke him. We don’t want them to just apologize or realize what they did to us (although we want this too!), we want them to hurt the way we have been hurt!

And, at the same time, we beg God that He doesn’t treat us the same way.

We can’t possibly live with integrity and hold both of these ideas in our hearts. So, we need to learn how to generously dispense mercy to others. We need to model Jesus. Being merciful does not mean being a doormat and letting bullies get away with anything, but it does mean that we should have a heart for what is in that other person’s best interest in our dealings with them. Sometimes a just punishment or fraternal correction is required, but more frequently, I think that forgiveness, humility and a realization of the many times that we, ourselves, have failed is more in order.

This all kind of goes back to that sense of gratitude that we talked about when reflecting on yesterday’s readings. If we adjust our outlook to one which reflects more on the gratitude we should have toward the many gifts that God gives us, we are more likely to have charity in our hearts to be able to give to others.

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