The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr. Bernard Espiritu, SVD — New Zealand
Monday 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Image source: Vatican News
In the Gospel of today’s liturgy, Jesus affirms the fact that the world will continue to experience sin as a reality. But he warns those people who want to follow him not to be the cause of sin. This implies that his followers are equipped to realize options that can produce better results. Among these is the rejection of sin and forgiving the sinner.
This is a gospel teaching that involves wisdom of the heart that balances knowledge and love. It comes about only with one who has an openness to divine assistance. Here one may be reminded of the old saying: to err is human, but to forgive is divine. True forgiveness finds its origin in the heart of God. It is a human quality that gives a hint to the divine in every human.
I am reminded of the song “Let there be peace on earth” written by Jill Jackson, and its music was composed by her husband Sy Miller in 1955. Jill’s life story cannot be likened to a bed of roses, but rather it had its ups and downs and even had a time of existential despair. Her first husband abandoned her at a time when the USA was struggling to come out of the difficult post-World War II era. Jobless, homeless, penniless, and with a very young daughter to care for, she really struggled in life. She was unsuccessful in committing suicide.
And it was then that she read the story of Jesus. She had a personal encounter with the Divine. This made her understand what is essential in life, and she penned the words of the song, and her newly found husband transformed her poetry into a song. She understood that peace is God-given; it is a spirit, a soul that is God-given. And it becomes real and tangible when it begins to take shape in the life of the one that carries that spirit. Let there be peace and let it begin with me.
The disciples in today’s Gospel had an insight into this heavenly truth. Forgiveness that brings peace must start with one’s self. Take note of how the evangelist Luke used the term seldomly used in the gospels. “And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’” Disciples learn; Apostles do not only learn but teach by their lived experiences. May the wisdom of our hearts capture the divine in us that can make us utter before God today: Increase our faith. This way we may know, understand and realize the dream of Pope Francis for all Christians to be missionary-disciples. In the thoughts of the Gospel today, apostle-disciple.