Daily Reflection
March 5th, 2001
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly
Registrar's Office
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Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 15
Matthew 25:31-46

Many moons ago, my view of the Bible was pretty simplistic and naive.  The Old Testament was fire and brimstone, the New Testament was sweetness and light.  The OT was western justice, the NT was ďIím OK, youíre OKĒ.  In the OT, the bad guys got theirís and the good guys found favor.  In the NT, the bad guys had dinner with Christ and the good guys were challenged to be better.  Since that time Iíve discovered that the God of the OT is also the God of the NT.  I wasnít just naive, I was wrong.  And todayís scripture readings are a prime example.

In the Gospel, the ďIím OK, youíre OKĒ idea is out the window.  Christ is very clear.  If you have not obeyed the command to love your neighbor as yourself, you are headed for the goat line.  A little frightening.  The Psalmist praises God for his commandments that give joy to the heart and light to the eyes.  And in Leviticus, God spells out the commandments.  He tells Moses and the Israelites, donít lie, donít steal, donít defraud, no favoritism, donít slander, donít hate, no revenge or grudges and sums it up with the command to love your neighbor as yourself.  No grudges?  Thatís a hard one for me.  I guess forgiveness is an essential element here.

I recently had an episode in my life where God displayed the power of forgiveness to me.  A few weeks ago my oldest son borrowed the family van.  Borrowed was not the term I used at the time.  He took the van without permission, without a license, at night in a snowstorm.  Could he have made any more bad choices?  On a hunch I drove to where I thought he might be.  I found him limping along on a flat tire.  I shouted to him to pull into the nearest parking lot.  As I got out of my car I could tell I was so angry that violence was boiling just below the surface.  My son had endangered his life, the lives of others on the road and apparently damaged the family van.  I approached him in a rage, just waiting for him to make excuses or blame others.  He said two words.  ďIím sorryĒ.  The anger washed out of me in a wave.  Forgiveness.  What a powerful thing God gives us to give or receive.  My son still had to suffer consequences for his actions, but one of them wasnít an out of control, raging father.  Later, it made me think of how God must view me.  I often make bad choices.  I do things that must disappoint and anger God.  This Lenten season reminds us of the Good News.  Christ died for our sins and gives us the opportunity to repent and be forgiven.  What a joy and blessing.

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