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MASS TIMES
 
Aren’t All Churches The Same?

Why Catholic – Testimony of Steve Ray

Peter, the Rock, the Keys, and the Chair – Steve Ray

 
 
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WELCOME TO GOD’S ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH!

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Reflection
 
“Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s,” says Saint Paul. As we gather today at God’s invitation, let us be mindful that we belong to the Lord, and pray for ways that we can be a reconciling presence in the world.

“Letting Bygones Be Bygones”

She slipped upstairs to find a few more playthings. Her neighbor had just left her two little ones with her to mind and, with her own two, there wasn’t enough to go round. They had started squabbling already. Rummaging in the toy-box, she came across an old photograph. She looked at it, daydreaming for a moment. Just long enough for one of her little charges to toddle out the front door which had been left slightly ajar. The little body was found later in the pond at the bottom of the garden. She went to pieces. While she was being treated in a psychiatric hospital, the mother of the dead child came to see her, the worst of her grief now over. Her forgiveness helped enormously to set her on the road-to recovery. But she was never the same again. She could never forgive herself for that moment’s neglect.

There is a young couple in Paris, with whom I am friendly. They have two little children. Since they don’t have a car, they occasionally call on my services to ferry them somewhere or other. I am always delighted to do so. Once the two little ones are firmly strapped in the back seat, I dangle the keys in front of the parents and ask: “Now, which of you is going to drive?” They are both excellent drivers. I just couldn’t take responsibility for them. If anything were to happen, God forbid, I would never be able to forgive myself.

Forgiveness is a hard thing. “Forgive and forget’, we are told. If only we could forget, forgiveness would come easy. But the scars of old hurts fester on, refusing to heal. And our resentment grows each time we remember the rejection, the insult, the injury. Our resentment wells up again, as if it was only yesterday. Bygones refuse to be bygones. The closer the friendship, the deeper the hurt. The only forgiveness we can muster, is usually reserved for strangers. Our lives are strewn with broken friendships. And all because we couldn’t find it in ourselves to forgive. “Shake hands and make up” we were told, when we fought as little boys in the school playground. That lesson seems to have disappeared with our schooldays.

“May God forgive him!” we mutter to ourselves, recalling for the umpteenth time some ancient hurt. We could spare ourselves that prayer. What God would like to know is will we forgive him. Jonathan Swift, with all his satire, was closer to the truth than we care to admit: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” How to explain those murderous wars between people who claim allegiance to their God?  Many of the belligerents are compatriots separated only by religion. Such wars will last as long as we refuse to forgive.

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

“The Harshness Of The Unforgiving Debtor Rebounds On Himself”

 

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,”Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.  That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.  Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.
 
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount.  He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’  Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt.  Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.

His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.  Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’  Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers  until he should pay back the whole debt.  So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
 

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