“Lord, you will open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.” - Psalm 51:17-19
Prayer: Lord, through Your plan of salvation You desire to renew my heart and make of me an eternal offering to You. Help me to be changed from the depth of my heart, that I can offer You a whole burnt offering of myself to You. Amen.
Whole Burnt Offering
Often, I enjoy looking at the Gospel in light of the first reading and the Psalm, but it can work the other way as well. We can gain insights into the first reading in light of the Gospel. The gospel gives us a story that reflects the same truth we say in the Our Father: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Jesus finishes the story of the king and the wicked servant by saying, “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” Meaning that our forgiveness has to come completely from the heart, not partially given in mind or habitually negated (constantly saying it is okay when it actually hurts), or simply diminish the offense done (saying that the offense was not that bad when it was). Forgiveness is to acknowledge the whole offense, that it was real and not perceived, that it hurt, created discomfort, was an injustice done. And once acknowledged then forgive wholly from the heart. From the depth of the heart. For love of God and the true good of the person who is asking for mercy. The goal that Jesus sets is forgiveness from the heart.
Our first reading reveals Azariah’s prayer as he is in the fire. Not next to the fire, in the fire. For Azariah while he is in the fire, he calls to mind the glory of God, God’s promises and favors. Azariah calls to mind the sins of the nation of Israel, and asks for mercy and deliverance. It is a prayer of pure heart and trust in God. I encourage you to reread it again in light of this notion of pure heart, and offering to God.
Ask God for the grace of prayer from the depth of your heart and if you need to forgive someone, the grace to forgive from the heart.
May God richly bless you!
Reading for today can be found here on the USCCB website.