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March 26: Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading Daniel 3:25,34-43
Gospel Matthew 18:21-35

“So will your heavenly father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

The Church, in which we share in the Body of Christ, is our truest home. By right, we should feel most at home in church, because it is there that we celebrate the source of all forgiveness. At the altar, the Church celebrates the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. When the priest speaks in the name of Christ, speaking those words that Christ spoke at the Last Supper, we leave our normal home in time and space and are taken into that home where forgiveness was first given by the God-man. We are transported into the presence of Christ’s eternal sacrifice: the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the Sacrifice which is the reason we can be forgiven.

But in our home within the Church, we find not only forgiveness. In the Church, when we share in the Eucharist we are giving thanks not only for the forgiveness wrought by Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross. We also give thanks for the fact that when we share fully in this sacrament, we receive not only a share in Christ’s forgiveness. We receive a share in the life of Christ himself. We receive not only the Forgiver’s forgiveness; we receive the Forgiver.

To receive forgiveness is to be restored to our former self. But to receive the Forgiver means not simply that we’re restored to our former self, but that we’re raised from our state of sinfulness to a share in the life of the Forgiver’s Self. We share in the life of Christ, and so are given the power to forgive others as Christ offers forgiveness: to all persons, in all circumstances, for ever.