The readings for today stress God’s powerful gift of forgiveness and his demand that we share this forgiveness with others. Even the wicked can be saved, the reading from Ezekiel reminds us, because “if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, … he shall surely live, he shall not die.” And no matter how we might wish otherwise, we all have a touch of wickedness in us, an inclination to choose the wrong over the right, to put ourselves first, and to harbor small resentments and petty grievances. As the Psalm for the day laments, “If you, O LORD, mark iniquities, LORD, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.”
The Gospel of the day teaches us how to make it right this Lent: “if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother.” Sometimes we show our worst to the people closest to us, like our brothers and sisters, our spouses and our children. That means we need to say sorry and ask forgiveness over and over again. “Whoever said that ‘love means never having to say I’m sorry’ was an idiot,” according to Catholic psychiatrist Dr. Phil Mango.
Putting forgiveness into practice isn’t always easy. On the most recent First Friday, my husband infuriated me by arriving home an hour late for our monthly Hot Date Night/Eucharistic Adoration combo. When he apologized, two possible responses popped into my head: “I thought that being married meant I never had to be alone again on a Friday night!!” or “Okay, I forgive you.” I picked choice two, because I didn’t want to pray for an hour before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with resentment weighing heavy on my heart. Because my husband offered me his whole life, I can let him take an hour for himself even if it wasn’t on the schedule.
So, this Lent, think of someone you may have hurt and ask for forgiveness. Say that you’re sorry, even if it hurts your pride. Remember to offer forgiveness freely. Recognizing how much God has forgiven you, decide today to actively reconcile with someone who has hurt you. Then you can walk to the altar with peace in your heart.