Become a Sister Request Prayer Volunteer Donate

A New Heart and a New Spirit

In this past Tuesday’s Gospel according to Matthew, we encountered the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. He responded with what we call today: The Lord’s Prayer. There is in that prayer a line that can give us pause to either be trusting of God’s mercy or to be fearful of Divine Judgement. Daily we say: forgive us our trespasses (debts, sins) AS WE forgive those who trespass against us (are in debt to us, sin against us). Lent is our time to reflect on this part of our prayer. And today, the Friday of the first week of Lent, we encounter Jesus again saying to the disciples: leave your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother (sister, family member, friend, ex), and then come and offer your gift.

So what is the relationship between those two passages guiding us for this first week? What is Jesus telling us today, about how to be a true disciple of his in this 21st century world; and of how to live in community as the people of God? First we need to remember that our basic Christian ethic flows from the “Two Greatest Commandments”, i.e. love of God and love of neighbor; the second of which says: You must love your neighbor as yourself. And, we cannot give praise and worship to God if we are not in some way reconciled in our relationships especially with anyone with which we have a falling out.

As the German theologian, Gerhard Lohfink, explains: In worship God reconciles with us, thus taking the initiative; consequently we must be reconciled among ourselves and so take the initiative, just as God does*. This is not an easy task! Imagine going to Mass and praying to God with petitions, thanksgiving and praise while at the same time a dispute among friends, relatives, or even within our common life together causes not only disruption but ill-will among ourselves. We must really mean it when we pray the Lord’s Prayer and ask God to forgive us as we forgive others. This first week of Lent helps us to focus on our relationships before we can continue on this Lenten journey, as we desire to do so, with a new heart and a new spirit. Blessings to all.

* (Gerhard Lohfink: The Most Important Words of Jesus: English translation, c 2023, Order of St. Benedict, Collegeville, MN, pg. 123).

4 thoughts on “A New Heart and a New Spirit

  1. Thank you once again, Shirley, in your reflections of the Good News that God forgives us first. Yet, it still means our need to love our neighbor and reach out in whatever way can to our neighbor if there has been a breach of relationship. Love and relationship is what life is all about and we are still learning.
    Blessings on your preaching,
    Brigid, O

  2. Well done, Shirley. Words of great wisdom for all of during this first week of Lent. Looking forward to you future blogs. Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *