Thursday, March 05, 2009

Go First and Be Reconciled with Your Brother

March 6, 2009

Friday of the First Week in Lent

By Melanie Rigney

When a virtuous man turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if a wicked man, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins which he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18: 26-28)

Out of the depths I call to you, Lord; Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. (Psalms 130:1-2)

“…(I)f 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, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)


Jesus, I recognize my folly in believing I come to You virtuous and pure. I ask for Your help and mercy in reconciling difficult relationships.


Sometimes, God can seem so aggravating.

In today’s readings, we’re reminded that our virtuousness of the past doesn’t remain in a storehouse to offset our current sins. It doesn’t seem fair, that we’re asked to be good all the time while those who are wicked can reform and receive the same blessings we do despite their past behavior. Then, to make matters worse, Jesus tells us that our disputes in our everyday life, including our judgments of “those people,” need to be resolved and forgiven before we can reconcile ourselves with God.

The readings reminded me of the “News Writing and Reporting” class I took my sophomore year in college. I expected to coast to an easy “A” since I’d been working professionally in the field since the day I graduated from high school. Only one other person in the class had credentials like mine. But I quickly learned the professor didn’t care about those credentials. He graded me on what I produced for the class, and I didn’t get brownie points for pointing out problems in others’ assignments. It shocked me when he told me privately that my classmates found my comments about their work and about my past accomplishments to be arrogant and prideful; after all, I was only trying to help them.

I got my “A,” but it didn’t come easily. And it didn’t come until I opened myself to learning from what the instructor and others said about my assignments and focused my own comments on how my classmates might improve their work rather than on what they were doing wrong.

Finding that place where we leaving the judging of others to the Lord while still offering loving feedback and guidance and being open to hearing the same from others can be difficult. But find it we must if we desire to bring ourselves and our gifts to His altar.

This weekend, ask someone for advice about a problem or situation you feel perfectly qualified to handle yourself. Celebrate the blessing of that feedback, whether or not you ultimately act upon it.

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