As a grade school principal one can never plan one’s day completely and some days one never gets to check anything off the list made for the day.
For example, at our school Mass on September 8th we celebrated the Feast of the Blessed Mother’s birthday. Our pastor,Fr. Ariel, (Father A to the students) led the school in singing Happy Birthday to Mama Mary. After that , he said, “Sister Carol, I want you to go out and buy ice cream for all the students to have today to celebrate Mary’s birthday and I will pay for it. ” At the final blessing, Fr. Ariel said, “Sister Carol, don’t forget to get the ice cream for the students.” With 170 plus students hearing this I knew I couldn’t forget.
Ice cream was served at the lunchtime recess and it was a hit.
( remember this is Arizona still 100 degrees plus), with our pledge and the singing of the national anthem. On this day the flag was at half mast. The teachers took time during the day to educate them about what was 9/11, where they were and how they felt as the students were not alive at that time. This is a history lesson for them.
We are fortunate to have an Associate Pastor at our parish. I try on the weekends to attend each of their masses to hear their homilies. They often are very different from each other depending on the angle of the readings they take and the two priests were educated at different seminaries: Fr. Ariel at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in the Philippines and Fr. Alan Valencia at Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago.
Today’s Gospel from Matthew has Peter asking Our Lord how many times must I forgive my brother? Fr. Ariel told us that if we do not forgive another the pain will be like a monkey that will sit on one’s back forever. We cannot let the past define who I am today.
Fr. Alan told us the number of times that Jesus mentions forgiveness in the Bible. This tells us we need to forgive We cannot follow the 1970’s movie- Love Story – where love is defined as “never having to say we are sorry”.
Being principal, I often have students in my office who got in trouble for a variety of reasons such as fighting,name calling etc. Bringing the two or three students together in my office they realize they have to say, I am sorry. Then I often hear from the other, “That’s ok. I forgive you. ” If only we could have this today with our world leaders.
The world is in need of saying: I am sorry. I forgive you. Let us pray together.