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Monday, March 10, 2014

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Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalm 19:8-10, 15
Matthew 25:31-46

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love is forgiveness

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." —Leviticus 19:18

Jesus surprised the religious leaders of His day by teaching that an obscure commandment in Leviticus was the second greatest commandment and, together with the first commandment, was the basis of the whole law and the prophets (Mt 22:35-40).

The Biblical context for the second greatest commandment is another commandment: "Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen" (Lv 19:18). Consequently, when Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, He is telling us to hold no unforgiveness. Thus, love as expressed in forgiveness indicates whether or not we truly love God with all our hearts. A forgiving love is part of the basis of the whole law and the prophets.

When we understand the Biblical context of the second greatest commandment, we see forgiveness not only as an aspect of Christianity but as the essence of it. This helps us understand why Jesus taught us to pray: "Forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us" (Mt 6:12). In the light of Leviticus, we can better appreciate one of Jesus' last words on the cross: "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:34).

When God says: "Love," He means first of all: "Forgive." God is Love, and they who abide in forgiveness abide in God and God in them (see 1 Jn 4:16).

Prayer:  Father, may I forgive 70 x 7 times. Give me a life of forgiving and love.

Promise:  "I assure you, as often as you did it for one of My least brothers, you did it for Me." —Mt 25:40

Praise:  Charles forgave his brother — again.

Reference:  (For more teaching, order our leaflets, Unforgiveness is the Cause and Forgiveness and Evangelization.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013

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