Today’s Thoughts: The Bay of Naples, Italy, is the habitat of a jellyfish called medusa and a small snail of the nudibranch variety.
When the snail is small, the jellyfish will sometimes swallow it and draw it into it digestive tract. But the snail is protected by its shell and cannot be digested. The snail fastens itself to the inside of the jellyfish and slowly begins to eat it, from the inside out. By the time the snail is fully grown, it has consumed the entire jellyfish.
Now I know you are so glad to have stopped by my reflections to get this very important information today about snails and jellyfish! However, It is not the information that is important but the image. The last few weeks out Gospels have focused on forgiveness including today’s Gospel. But, I think an underlying theme today is anger and what it can do to us.
All of us have been hurt in life, some more than others. Our human response to being hurt by another person or group is pretty much the same. We become angry and we want retribution, or vengeance. We want justice. We want someone to pay. We want our pound of flesh. We want an eye for an eye. We want someone to feel our pain.
In our first reading today, from the Book of Sirach, the wise sage reminds us of how anger, wrath and vengeance can be destructive if allow to fester and control us. Perhaps relating this to our open image, anger, wrath, and vengeance can become the snails that attach themselves to our hearts and souls and begin to devour us from the inside out. And at times in our lives we have all had these snails.
I think we can all recall examples in our own lives or that we have seen others who become consumed by anger, resentment and vengeance. It becomes the energy and focus of their life. They can think of nothing else. When I see a person like this I am often sad because I think of all the good things they may have missed because they are so focused on getting that eye for an eye!
The story in our Gospel today teaches us that God’s forgiveness, God’s mercy, compassion and love is a grace that we must let transform us. In seeking and receiving God’s forgiveness life cannot remain the same. We need to let it transform us into a forgiving person. The king, in our story, is profoundly compassionate and merciful and he expects the servant to be the same. However, even though a great burden has been lifted from the servant he remains unchanged. The anger, hurt, wrath, vengeance, the self-centeredness remains. The snail eats away from the inside out until there is nothing left.
St. Paul reminds us that it is not about us it is about Christ. “Life is not about me!” It is about our journey of faith together in Christ. As our response remains us today our God is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion. Our God is willing to grace us with his mercy, compassion and forgiveness only if we are willing to let is transform us, change us. Because if we don’t in the end we will be devoured just like the jellyfish!
Have a blessed, holy, safe, and healthy Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...