Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Let’s examine un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness is when we harbor thoughts of revenge, retribution and punishment … when we are angry, and full of hate, ill-will, hostility and ill-feelings towards those who hurt us.
If none of these feelings are within us – then we have truly forgiven. As best we can, we have truly forgiven.
Of course, the memory of the hurt and pain caused to us will remain. Perhaps forever. But as long as the memories are not accompanied by feelings of ill-will, then we have forgiven. Every time we remember the hurt should be an opportunity to forgive yet again.
The mind may not forget but the heart forgives.
Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18: 21-22
Saturday, 24 September 2016
You look carefully and, despite the shroud covering the figure, you recognise who it is; and your heart misses a beat and sinks to your stomach.
There pointing at you is your arch-enemy. You did not even know the person is dead. You had an almighty argument years ago and you parted company the greatest of enemies. You have never met since. What is that person doing here and pointing at you accusingly.
Saint Peter looks up from his computer and says: "Meet my assistant. You two have not met for sometime!"
Your heart misses another beat and sinks even lower to your feet. If your arch-enemy is here there's no point in going on with the preliminaries of reception to this place. He will have told Saint Peter all about you. You might as well go down without a parachute.
"My assistant has something to tell you," continues Saint Peter.
Your arch-enemy speaks. "I am so sorry I have hurt you. I never sought forgiveness nor cared much for it. Please forgive me."
There's a lump in your throat. Your heart gives up in despair unable to go any lower.
Saint Peter explains. "My assistant here had an opportunity to examine his conscience before he died. He deeply regretted the way he lived and asked God's forgiveness. That's why he is here. When he heard of your arrival he asked if he could seek your forgiveness too. Welcome to Heaven."
MORAL OF THE STORY:
If you have wronged someone, seek forgiveness now. You may not get the opportunity before you die. And you may not meet again in the other life. That is unless you both meet at a place where it does not matter whether we forgive or not!
Monday, 12 September 2016
Saturday, 10 September 2016
Father Ignatius got an unexpected confession when sitting in his confessional on Saturday. The unknown voice on the other side of the small window of the wooden confessional said clearly “Father, I cannot forgive!”
The priest waited a second or two before asking “Have you tried to forgive?”
“Yes Father,” said the voice, “I’ve tried and tried and I cannot forgive. I don’t see the point of being here right now. Even if you absolve me, I just cannot forgive!”
Father Ignatius said a quick silent prayer, as he often did when he needed Divine help, and then said “Why don’t you wait in church for a while. After all confessions are over, perhaps we can have a chat and discuss this a bit more!”
When confessions had finished the priest got out of his confessional to find a well-dressed man in a pin-striped suit sitting alone at the front of the church, just by the statue of the Virgin Mary. The very place where Father Ignatius often sits to recite the Rosary.
The priest approached him and asked “Are you waiting to see me?”
Moments later the two men were sitting in the sacristy. The man started “Father, you don’t know me. I don’t come to this church …”
“There is no need to know you …” interrupted Father Ignatius, “feel free to tell me what’s on your mind!”
The man smiled and continued “I’ve had a health scare … the doctors aren’t happy with my condition.
“I’ve come here to make my peace with God, but I just can’t. It got to the point where I cannot say the Lord’s Prayer because of that bit about forgiving others’ sins.”
The priest nodded encouragingly and said nothing.
“Some years ago we had a family dispute,” said the man, “As disputes go this was really a big one … and as you can imagine we were all at fault. Everyone took entrenched positions and every one was of course in the right … as we all thought at the time.
“The result of this is that one individual hurt someone close to me very badly … so badly that it is still affecting their life even now. That individual has now moved on and we no longer communicate. But I cannot forgive the hurt done to my close relative.
“I was hurt too … and somehow I think I can forgive that. I was just as guilty as anyone else I suppose. But I just cannot forgive the hurt that was done, and is still being done, to my close relative who was innocent and not involved in the dispute!”
The man stopped talking. His clenched fists on either side of his body betrayed long-held pent-up anger and frustration.
Once again the priest asked for Divine inspiration in a silent prayer for this stranger and his family.
“Look at that painting on the wall …” he said eventually, “It depicts the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of her Son just as He has been brought down from the Cross.
“Moments earlier He was hanging up there in agony as He breathed His last at the hands of His enemies.
“Moments earlier he had asked His Father to forgive His enemies. I don’t know how He did it. I would probably not have forgiven them had all this happened to me. But He did forgive them. That’s very important.
“Now look at Mary’s face. Look at the pain still in her heart, having witnessed this most cruel of deaths to her innocent Son. She gave birth to Him and raised Him from a baby to the Divine man He became. And now here He is, dead in her arms. Can you imagine the agony of this mother at this particular moment in her life?
“Do you think she forgave the people who did all this? The Pharisees and Sadducees, the Romans and all the enemies of Christ?
“I suppose at the time this painting depicts she probably did not forgive them. We have no way of knowing of course. I’m only guessing. How can a loving mother forgive what has been done to her Son when emotions are still raw and the pain at its most intense?
“But I’m sure that with time she did forgive them. Especially when she saw her Son rise again in Glory.”
The priest stopped for a while, as he often did, to accentuate what he had just said.
“You still hurt …” continued Father Ignatius, “not so much for yourself, but for your close relative who still suffers the wrong done to him or her.
“You know … this is good.
“It is good that you still hurt. It shows a generosity of spirit and a love towards your close relative that is Christ-like.
“I believe that when Jesus met the poor, the destitute, the lame, the blind, deaf, dumb and all those who were ill … even the dead and their grieving relatives. He suffered with them. He felt their pain and their agonies. He took pity on them and He made them better.
“Note that on every occasion … on every occasion … He approached the individual on a personal basis and spoke to them and helped them as individuals.
“He was all powerful. He could have clicked his fingers and all the sick people in the crowd would have been healed.
“But He did not do that. He stopped and approached the blind man shouting His name in the crowd. He talked to the woman who dared touch His gown to be healed.
“Your love for that close relative of yours is portrayed in the way you still carry their hurt. Even though you may not be aware of it!”
The man brought his hand to his eyes pretending to wipe some imaginary dust from his eye lid.
The priest continued “And now … what do we do with the situation regarding your lack of forgiveness towards the person who caused the hurt?”
The man sat straight in his chair.
“In difficult situations I always delegate upwards!” said the priest with a smile. “I ask God for help. I tell Him honestly how I feel and ask for His help and guidance.
“Tell God how you feel about the situation … just as you told me. Tell him that you find it difficult to forgive and ask Christ’s help, and Mother Mary’s too.
“And when you feel the resentment and anger towards that person who created all this hurt, why not pray for them?
“Just like Jesus, ask God to forgive them. Tell him you still feel the pain and you would ask Him to forgive them instead. Hold these people up to God.
“The hurt in your heart may never go away; but let it be an opportunity, every time it surfaces, to hand over these people to God and to ask for His forgiveness.”
The man brought his hand to his eye once again and said “It’s very dry in this room … it must be the air-conditioning!”
“I’m sure it is …” replied the priest, “now go in peace and consider yourself absolved.”
Tuesday, 6 September 2016
You'd be surprised what people sell at these sales. Mostly what you find are worthless items, but every now and then, if you know what you are buying and have a keen interest in antiques, you can find a gem or two which you can re-sell later on for a fortune.
I remember years ago I was very lucky to find two rare items at the same car boot sale. First I found an oil painting by Stradivarius, and then later on that day I discovered a violin made by Rembrandt.
I took them to an antique dealer. He told me they were rare but unfortunately Stradivarius was a bad painter and Rembrandt could not make a good violin to save his life. I sold both items for $400.
On another occasion I found a fountain pen and a cell-phone which belonged to King Henry the VIII. I later sold them for $2 each.
I also found a watercolour painting of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, I think it was. He was shot in the eye with an arrow, in that battle. You can see it clearly in the painting. King Harold sitting on a horse with an arrow in his eye. Below it there's the inscription: Keep blinking your Majesty. It will work its way out!
Undeterred I continued visiting and searching car boot sales. And that's where I found a very rare brown canary. He was going cheep ... cheep ... cheep. I was told later that he was just a sparrow, so I let him go free. He immediately pulled off all his feathers revealing beautiful yellow plumage.
Anyway ... all this is leading to what I found last week at a sale. An old manuscript which looked very ancient indeed. It was hand-written, (that's why it's called a manuscript), in some very ancient language. I could not make out what language it was, or decipher any of the letters; and neither could the seller. It looked as if it dated back centuries, perhaps even a date B.C. - can you imagine that. It was leather bound and in fairly good condition considering its age. The pages had become brown with age and you could see the writing faintly on every page.
I took it to several experts to try to identify the language it was written in. None could identify it or even place a date as to when it was written, or indeed where.
I was very excited that at last I had discovered something that was worth a fortune. Can you imagine the feeling? Holding something in my hand that years ago could have belonged to some ancient sage, or perhaps a King from a far off land, or perhaps a wizard like Merlin or such like person.
If only I knew what was written in that book and decipher its secrets. Perhaps some ancient cures to many ailments that challenge modern science, or secret recipes for longevity, or magician's potions or spells perhaps.
Eventually I took the manuscript to an ancient language expert in our library. The expert wasn't ancient. He was about fifty years old or so. His skill was deciphering ancient languages; hence him being an ancient language expert. He was also an expert of anthropology. At first I thought this was the study of how ants apologise - ant thropolofy. But he told me he studied humankind; particularly human societies and cultures.
He said: "Do you realise that whilst you've been standing here 3000 people in the world have died?"
"OK," I said, "in that case I'll stand over there!"
He smiled and explained, "What I meant to say, every time I breathe in and out one person in the world dies!"
"You should try a better mouthwash," I replied.
Anyway, he looked at the hand-written manuscript and indentified it straightaway. It is a doctor's diary. Apparently all doctors write this way.
Saturday, 3 September 2016
Jesus died at the age of thirty-three.
He never lived to a ripe old age and, as a human, whom He was, as well as being God, He never got to experience what we humans experience as we grow old.
The pains of rheumatism and arthritis. The slowing down of our body and the inability to run or walk as fast as we used to. The odd lapse of memory. Difficulty with hearing or with seeing properly; and the many other ailments which beset us as we grow old.
Had He grown old like some of us do; would He have used His powers to heal Himself and take away the pain?
Of course, all this is pure speculation. The reality is that He died a most horrible and painful death on the Cross, which far far outweighs whatever ailments we suffer from as we grow old.
The fact that He has not experienced our old age, or any other experiences we go through in this world, does not mean that He doesn’t understand them and that He does not hurt when we hurt.
He feels our pain because He loves us. He accepted the torture of His death because He loves us.
Perhaps we too should try, as best we can, to understand and accept our age related pains with dignity. For His sake.
I know an elderly man who has had many illnesses and operations – he is in constant pain. Whenever I ask him how he is doing, he replies: Thank God I am OK – there are so many so much worse off than me.
Lately, he chuckled and added: Pain is a sign that you are still alive. When you stop feeling pain that’s when you should worry.
Dear Lord help those in pain right now. Amen.