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February 19, 2004 Edition

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The grace to forgive

photo of Fr. David Wanish
Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Fr. David Wanish 

On a recent trip to Nicaragua, I heard an elderly woman, whose son had died in fighting, describe her community experience during the Sandinista-Contra war. "We learned to be strong. We learned to take care of ourselves."

I was surprised when she added, "We learned to forgive." She paused, "Please let me share a story."

Seventh Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(Feb. 22, 2004)
1 Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
1 Cor 15:45-49
Lk 6:27-38

She pointed across a valley. "That hill, by those pines, was an enemy encampment. After the battle, we arrived there to find that the only ones left alive were wounded enemy soldiers. We cared for them as we would have cared for our own. We nursed them back to health. We learned to forgive."

I was awed by this act of mercy. I think most people would have treated the enemy very differently. I wonder - how did she find the grace to forgive?

In today's reading, David and Abishai, with great stealth, entered the encampment of Saul and his men while they slept. Abishai whispered to David that God had delivered the enemy into their hands. "Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust!"

But David said, "Do not harm him." Instead, they took Saul's weapon and proceeded to the opposite hilltop. Looking back, David set down the spear and repeated that he would not harm the Lord's anointed.

When I've been hurt by another, how can I disarm my anger and move to a place where I can look back, see differently, and forgive? David realized that Saul, besides being his enemy, was also the Lord's anointed. I often find it helpful to recall that, although I have been hurt by another, God has blessed that person with good qualities.

Reflection questions

• Do I have a special memory
of someone forgiving me?

• Is God calling me to forgive someone else?

Especially powerful to me are the examples of those who have forgiven me when I expected them to bear resentment for something I had said or done. They give me back my life.

I pray that I can be like them. Then I, too, can learn to forgive.

Fr. David Wanish is parochial vicar of St. Paul University Catholic Center at UW-Madison.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • The courage to open oneself up to God on God's terms -- not on one's own terms -- is basic to spirituality.

  • Spiritual maturity comes through persistent efforts over an extended period. As we progress, we sort through a great mixture of fear of evil and yearning for the good.

  • Love for God and neighbor can become the motivation for our lives.

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  •  Food for Thought
    We've been told by great saints that the journey of faith and Christian spirituality can be a genuine adventure. But what is an "adventure"?

    In common parlance, "adventure" suggests some sort of journey into uncharted territory. This is presumed to be an interesting journey or one that tests and challenges us. Its outcome isn't fully known in advance; adventures are accompanied by surprises. But new perspectives on life's possibilities may be a reward for undertaking the adventure.

    The assumption in referring to spirituality as an adventure is that there is territory in the life of faith we haven't yet explored and that doing so would be interesting and rewarding. It seems a safe assumption, since faith's scope is vast, reaching into relationships with God, the church, other people, the world around us.

    But is an adventure into spirituality desirable? It could mean learning new approaches to prayer or meditation, it could result in greater commitment of time, energy or imagination to the journey.

    full story

    What It Takes to Hear God's Voice
    By Father John W. Crossin, OSFS

    Catholic News Service

    Does human well-being consist in having control of our lives? Or are we situated in the midst of divine mystery?

    Constant commercial interruptions urge us to take control:

    full story 

    Stepping Beyond Anxiety Into Peace
    By Jean Sweeney

    Catholic News Service

    Many good people walk around in chronic anxiety and fear. It makes them suspicious of others and mistrustful of life.

    For some, anxiety began when they were children. Fearfulness became part of them for many unpreventable reasons. Someone close to them had a long illness or perhaps a parent died suddenly. Others were hurt verbally or physically. Some lived in an undependable or chaotic situation or feared a parent in a serious, ongoing way.

    full story 

    When My Lents Are Really Good
    By Father W. Thomas Faucher

    Catholic News Service

    I've spent most Lenten seasons at home, wherever home was at the time. Most of these Lents were at best OK, though not really memorable. However, a few Lenten seasons stand out, times I gave God the room needed to move me, change me.

    What is similar about my really good Lents is a lack of planning and an openness to the Spirit's movement.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    What were your Lenten intentions last year? Did you stick to your plan?

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2004 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of February 22 - 28, 2004

    Sunday, February 22, 2004
    Reading I: 1 Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
    Reading II: 1 Cor 15:45-49
    Gospel: Lk 6:27-38

    Monday, February 23, 2004
    Reading I: Jas 3:13-18
    Gospel: Mk 9:14-29

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004
    Reading I: Jas 4:1-10
    Gospel: Mk 9:30-37

    Wednesday, February 25, 2004
    Ash Wednesday
    Reading I: Jl 2:12-18
    Reading II: 2 Cor 5:20--6:2
    Gospel: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

    Thursday, February 26, 2004
    Reading I: Dt 30:15-20
    Gospel: Lk 9:22-25

    Friday, February 27, 2004
    Reading I: Is 58:1-9a
    Gospel: Mt 9:14-15

    Saturday, February 28, 2004
    Reading I: Is 58:9b-14
    Gospel: Lk 5:27-32

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    February General Intention

    Bread and water for all the world: That all Christians, sensitive to the distressing condition of the peoples who are still suffering from hunger and thirst, may be moved to greater solidarity towards their brothers.

    February Mission Intention

    The Church in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei: That the church in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, while remaining open to dialogue with the followers of the other religions, may remain faithful to its own exacting evangelizing mission.

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