O God, in whom we are redeemed and receive adoption,
look graciously upon your sons and daughters
that those who believe in Christ
may receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance.
Ín making this prayer tangible for this coming week, the following reflection questions have emerged:
1. What does it mean to me to be redeemed by God?
2. What does it mean to me to receive adoption from God?
3. What does it mean to me a son/daughter of God?
4. What difference will being a son/daughter of God make in my life this week?
5. What would it mean to me to receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance.
6. what areas of my life are a hindrance to true freedom and how might I move towards freeing these areas in order to receive true freedom from God?
7. What one change will I make in my life this coming week to be a better disciple/ a better person to my family, friends, work colleagues, parishioner, a stranger and to anyone I meet?
Today's gospel provides us with a model for approaching reconciliation. Obviously the three fold model is not something that occurs, one after the other in a short space of time- no, there is genuine effort, sincerity of heart and allowance of time that can heal ( not always) in between different phases of the reconciliation process.
I think it also needs to be pointed out here that when there has been significant hurt/distress that the process of reconciliation will take longer. Our hearts do not run to a timetable. Some hurts/distress may end up being forgiven but not necessarily seeing the person who was involved in the hurt. We may find our own way to be at peace through prayer and kindly thoughts towards that person without actually reopening the relationship. In some cases, reopening the relationship may indeed to be to our own detriment of well being. It does not mean that we have not forgiven the person. In fact, it may be the most loving thing to do for our own well being and for theirs as well.
The important thing from this Gospel today is Jesus invites us to think about process in reconciliation- to realise that reconciliation needs the initial heart to heart with only the people concerned and then if that is not able to be resolved, then mediation involving others may be required.
This topic is close to my heart this week- I have a family member who has not contacted me in 6 years. The phone call came out of the blue so I am shocked and stunned. I have not rushed to answer the request to meet. I am still shocked- the past re-emerges and it is difficult not to play the tapes of the past in my mind. Is it the loving thing to do to meet? Some people would say yes and some no and some perhaps would say a yes and a no. There is a case for a yes and a case for the no and I wish for wisdom to know what to do- what is the most loving thing to do for both parties. There are just so many questions and thoughts. I ask you to pray for me so I do get the wisdom to know what is the best thing to do. What is God requiring of me in this situation?
Reconciliation is definitely a process but at the basis of it needs to be a sense of trust and respect for both parties. Where is trust and respect, people can have differing opinions and still be friends. We do not have to be the same as the world would want us to believe. Where trust and respect is present in a relationship, both parties can make mistakes, perhaps even hurt the other party by their behaviour/actions but even though trust and respect may be dinted/damaged, their friendship will likely to endure. Take the trust and respect for granted- then it is likely to be a different story.
As we listen to this week's gospel, we might like to think about all our relationships- what makes them a good relationship, what can be improved or in my case with my estranged family member, do some more thinking/ take action to pick up the phone. We can appreciate the relationships that are working well and nurture them more by thanking God for His blessing on them. We can ask for assistance in the relationships that need improvement and where relationships are irrevocably damaged, ask for the grace to leave them (if that is required) but with a loving attitude.
May this week's gospel challenge you to think about all your relationships and their quality including your relationship with God.