All Day (Tuesday)
Meditations for Lent By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press Week 3: Tuesday Reconciliation We can learn how much God loves peace from the beautiful precept that commands us to be reconciled with our
Meditations for Lent
By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press
Week 3: Tuesday
We can learn how much God loves peace from the beautiful precept that commands us to be reconciled with our brother before we worship, lest we approach the oblation offered to him with a resentful heart and hands bent upon vengeance.
We should be most attentive to these words: “If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). And we should seek reconciliation not only when we have actually offended our brother, but even if he has taken offense mistakenly. We should seek a charitable resolution for fear that we might come to hate him, should we discover that he already hates us. The first gift to offer to God is a heart that is cleansed of all coldness and of all unfriendliness toward our brother.
We should not wait for Sunday, whether we are all together or by ourselves alone at Holy Mass. The Lord’s Day should be preceded by reconciliation.
We must carry to still greater lengths our love of peace. St. Paul says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26). The shadows only cause our annoyance to increase. Our anger will return and awaken us in the night, and it will have become embittered. The somber, sorrowful emotions — among which are hatred, the desire for vengeance, and jealousy — become more painful during the night in the same way that wounds and fevers and illnesses do.
In quarrels, lawsuits, and disputes, each summons the other before a judge, because the offense is mutual. Both parties ought instead to seek a voluntary and mutual settlement, rather than to arrive at a judgment that will only increase the bitterness of all. This is the truth that we must consider.
St. Augustine said that the enemy with whom we must be reconciled while we are wayfarers here below is none other than the truth, which condemns us in this life, and in the next brings us to the executioner who will oblige us to pay to the last penny, that is to say, to remain forever in that appalling prison, for we will never be able to satisfy the debt of our crimes.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12, Douay-Rheims). It is something worthy of our reflection that God has made the pardon that we hope for from him depend upon the pardon that he commands us to give to those who have offended us. Not content to have constantly inculcated this obligation, he has placed it in our own mouths in our daily prayer, so that should we fail to pardon, he will say to us what he said to the wicked servant: “I condemn you out of your own mouth!” (cf. Luke 19:22). You asked pardon from me, promising to pardon in return. You have pronounced your own sentence when you refused to pardon your brother. Get thee to that unhappy place where there is neither pardon nor mercy.