Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive.
And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
At the World Meeting of Families in 2015, Pope Francis gave a speech that has given me great consolation. In it he said: “Families have difficulties. Families — we quarrel, sometimes plates can fly, and children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother-in-laws!” But he goes on to say that “those difficulties can be overcome with love.”
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that “occasions for stumbling are bound to come.” While I wish I had my act together as a husband and parent, I often feel like I am stumbling along. When the house is a mess, my kids are fighting, and I lose my patience, the plates in my home can fly (at least figuratively, for now). Those are the times when I plead to God to “increase my faith.”
Today, Jesus does not tell us that we are going to be shielded from the messiness of communal life. Instead, he seems to be telling us to continue to forgive and repent in the midst of that messiness. And we need to do it over and over and over again….
—Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, NE.
Lord, we all make mistakes and on occasion someone gets offended in the marriage, in the family, and sometimes plates are smashed, harsh words are spoken. But please help us so that we don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Help us remember that peace is made each day in the family: Help us to say “please forgive me”, and then start over.
—Prayer adapted from the Address of Pope Francis to the Participants in the Pilgrimage of Families, Oct. 26th, 2013Please share the Good Word with your friends!