"Be patient with me and I will pay you back . . ."
It doesn't take much to realize that little children don't necessarily share easily: "My doll, my truck, my toys." Often, however, when prompted, they will share with their friend, brother or sister even though reluctantly at times. Translating that further to adulthood, we speak of "my house, my money, my car, my career, my boat, my phone, my computer, etc." We work hard for what we have, we scrimp and save, make personal sacrifices and try to determine priorities, at least we should to some extent. We tend to forget that all we have is ultimately provided by the providence of God. In essence,we really don't own anything; We are borrowers for a time and that being said, we are responsible to care for what we have in a spirit of gratitude.
This Tuesday's Gospel, in Jesus answer to Peter's question about frequent forgiveness, Jesus tells the story about the ungrateful servant. The debt he owed to his master must have been astronomical since it took everything he had plus his wife and children in order to pay it back. He had been given extravagantly by his Master (God) and unable to pay back this enormous debt, forgiven to the same degree. One would assume he would be forever grateful for what the Master did for him and do likewise to others.
However, such is not the case. To the lower slave who owed him much less, he responded to them with a harshness that caught the attention of the Master's other servants. He returns to the Master (God) and is punished for not extending the same forgiveness to others that had been extended to him. The lesson is obvious.
God has given us more than we could ever repay: his grace, mercy, forgiveness, his own Son who died for us, this Church, sacraments, his Word, a faith community, our material possessions, we can go on and on. Our material possessions, as important as they are for our living, is likewise provided for us by God. As we pray in the Lord's prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread." He has done so and then some.
So, this Lent, let's take stock of what we have - our possessions. Let's look upon them with less attachment and far more gratitude. Let's pray for a more generous spirit of charity. As the law works, the more I give the more I receive. It's just the way God works with us. As he has done for us, so we must do for others. Maybe begin with forgiveness of my neighbor. Be extravagant in mercy with them so that you might be right with God.
Peace this Lent . . .