August 11, 2012
Welcome to Sabbath Moments, the meme Colleen hosts from Thoughts on Grace.
A couple of weeks ago I pulled up all but two tomato plants because the fruit was cooking on the vines in this heat. Two Arkansas Traveler heirloom plants were planted in partial shade and their leaves weren’t turning brown so I left them to continue to ripen fruit. The ATs are a great variety for hot climates and since these did so well in their location I’ll plant them again in the same place next year.
Arkansas Travelers are juicy but also meaty enough to make great salsa, so for the third week in a row I put up a quart and a half of homemade salsa with peppers from our garden, too. It goes great on the veggie omelets with cheese that I make for our Friday dinners and is good on Mexican spiced burgers and tacos. The Lord is so good to give us a harvest we can enjoy in spite of the drought, and food healthy for us. I’m glad He made me enjoy cooking, too.
In the last Sabbath Moments I wrote about the death of our yard helper, Jay. We often conversed about living the Gospel and I remember clearly what Jay said about forgiveness: “I know from experience that you can’t go around carrying a load of resentment and anger. It’ll eat you alive. You’ve got to let go and forgive or you’ll never be happy.”
One time the subject came up in the context of a motel owner who had taken advantage of him on a landscaping job and not paid as promised. To boot, the wife spoke abusively to him even though their own sons had quit the job because the work was too hard. Jay walked away and refused to nurse feelings of revenge although in his shoes I’d have been fantasizing numerous ways to get even or else I’d be down on my knees struggling to put it behind me, handing it over to Jesus on the cross. Struggling because sometimes when we give these feelings to Jesus we keep taking them back, making ourselves miserable with an interminable tug of war. But Jay was able to see things in the larger context of his life and didn’t want that kind of poison to get in his way of living in God’s hands.
Yesterday’s meditation in Divine Intimacy on mercy contains St. Teresa of Avila’s words on forgiveness from The Way of Perfection (Dover Thrift Editions). It reminded me of Jay and our conversations, and showed me what a long way I have to go in this department.
O Jesus, how much You esteem this mutual love of ours for one another! You could have taught us to say, “Forgive us, Lord, because we are doing a great deal of penance, we pray often, we fast, or because we have left all things for Your sake and we love You greatly,” or “Forgive us because we would lose our life for Your sake: or other words of the same kind; but You said only, “Forgive us, as we forgive!”
This is a truth which we should consider carefully. You, O Lord, have willed to bind a grace so great – in such a serious and important matter as pardoning our sins which have merited eternal fire – to such a simple condition as our forgiveness of others.
But what about one as poor as I, who have had so few occasions for forgiving others and so many for being forgiven? O Lord, take my desire to do so, for I believe I would forgive any wrong if You would forgive me. But at this moment I see that I am so guilty in Your sight that I feel that those who injure me are treating me too well.
As I have so few even of these trifling things to offer You, O Lord, Your pardoning of me must be a free gift; here is abundant scope for Your mercy!
But are there, perhaps many others who are like me and have not yet understood this truth? If there are any such, I beg them in Your Name, O Lord, to remember this truth often and to pay no heed to little things about which they think they are being slighted.
Sometimes we get to the point of thinking that we have done something wonderful because we have forgiven a person for some trifling thing. Then we ask You, O Lord, to forgive us as people who have done something important, just because we have forgiven someone. Ah, Lord! grant us to understand how little we understand ourselves and how empty our hands are! Deign to pardon us, but only by Your Mercy! (T.J. Way, 36).
The great saints always know how to hold the mirror up to our faces, don’t they? It’s purely our narcissism that gets in the way of forgiving others.
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