I turn 51 today. I realized that my sense of what is a gift has changed significantly over the years. As a boy the worst present I could imagine was a package of underwear and socks. There was a huge gap between what I wanted and what I needed. This year for my birthday I am getting 4 replacement windows for our home and I am happy about this. What I want and what I need seem to have grown to be more similar and I take this to be a good thing.
Today’s readings got me to think along a similar line. I was not the best child. I caused my parents and those around me an undue amount of stress. The gratitude that forgiveness brings was not foremost on my mind. This behavior was not easy to alter. I can remember a day about 15 years ago, when my wife said to me: “You know, you are not an easy person to live with.” In response, I called my best friend and irately told him what my wife had said to me. He told me she was right. I followed this with calls to my sisters who also confirmed what my wife had obviously been holding in for some time.
The readings today bring out the idea of a forgiving God. Given my past I appreciate a forgiving God much more than a just God. In the first reading from Daniel we see the chosen people experiencing guilt for their past and gratefulness for God’s compassion and forgiveness. In the psalm, there is an admission of responsibility and an intercession for compassion. The Gospel also holds out the promise of forgiveness but that promise seems to be predicated on our own actions.
My prayer today has a good Lenten theme. Today I pray for the forgiveness that I both want and need. I pray for the ability to recognize my shortcomings. I pray for the strength to be more accepting and forgiving. I pray for God’s forgiving love.
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