Saturday, September 16, 2023

Forgive All Ways, a homily with Washington Home Inclusive Monthly Mass, September 17, 2023 by Elaine Pfaff ARCWP

Good afternoon and hello to my new friends in DC!  Your invitation to  break bread and word together with you this afternoon in WHIMM “enlarges the tent” for  us and for All who live inclusion – in & from this independent sacramental movement. We “Enlarge the Space of  the Tent”  here and now through this Eucharist welcoming All and sending us forth to be the Church and to do the work of justice and peace.  

There's a Synod of Bishops about to happen in Rome beginning October 4th Pope Francis has named it “Communion, Participation, Mission.”  In preparation, Catholics across the world held listening sessions last year.  Time and time again we expressed our desire to “Enlarge the Space of [Our] Tent” so that we  welcome and include All of Us.  So that the equality with which we honor one another inside our tent (and gardens)  flows freely outside our open spaces to be the Christ consciousness and to do the work of social justice.       


Thanks to you, the Community gathered today in person and on screen.  Your good will and hospitality is a powerful force. Thanks to the skill of tech wizards among us who make our presence to one another possible. 

We are exactly 230 miles apart just now, you at R Street  in Washington DC to me in

 Hertford NC. Add to that the distance of our Community with us on Zoom.  I think of  St Phoebe, whom we honor today, as she physically traveled over 3 times that distance, 750 miles from Cenchrea to Rome to deliver the second Reading we hear today.  Current biblical scholarship concludes that Phoebe was more than a messenger.  It's possible that Pheobe herself participated in writing what is known as Paul's Letter to the Romans.  In all probability, she read the letter to the Community and therefore had a powerful influence over its interpretation. 

( ) Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa

The letter is a powerful message of peace:  We belong to God!


The title of my homily is Forgive All Ways, as the author of Sirach and Jesus in Matthew insist. As Phoebe and Paul persist in the Letter to the Romans.  How fitting that these three readings come together this liturgical year during the Season of Creation.  Forgiveness is intrinsic to sustain Creation; it's taught in most world religions.  Yet, I must confess that when I hear Jesus' injunction to forgive “seventy times seven”,  I at first get tired out!  Maybe you too  have a similar first reaction.  Must we really forgive offenders regardless of the level of pain they cause us – from the relatively small matter of rudeness, perhaps – to the tragic loss of a life cut short – to a devastating betrayal in a relationship?  With all of  that, it seems we're constantly confronted with the unavoidable practice of forgiveness simply to stay alive!

And yet we must forgive  to stay alive, that is to benefit our selves in body, mind, and spirit.  Science proves the psychological and physiological benefits of forgiving others..  Findings in study after study suggest that learning to forgive improves overall wellness and protects us against future upsets.  We become emotionally stronger, experience greater confidence, with fewer feelings of depression because we become increasingly optimistic when we forgive.  (

We all know stories of heroic forgiveness, like Scarlett Lewis, the mother of Jesse Lewis who died in Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. (, Forgiving the Unforgivable.)  She and many others grieving the violent loss of loved ones speak of the self healing process of forgiving the unforgivable.  When the task seems impossible, we can be encouraged by clinical evidence that  “Even thinking about forgiving an offender” improves our cardiovascular and nervous systems. (Wiltvliet, Ludwig & Laan, 2001)

Learning to forgive is a process.  It does not mean we excuse a person's responsibility for causing harm.  It means we clear space for our personal freedom.  So let's do that – quietly, silently ~ you and I.  Think of forgiving  one person … one group …  letting go one situation … one occasion that needs  release.

 Imagine the goodness of your intention extending its energy outward.  Silently send that  

goodness  to the person on your left …. and the person on your right .. the person who may be in front of you …. and the person behind you. 

How might you name that goodness?  Is it the gift of peace growing?  Understanding? Compassion?  

Know that your goodness affects you and all around you.  You and all the Universe.

Open Sharing ~ Thank you for listening.  Please offer your thoughts on today's liturgy.  What do you experience in the readings and reflection?

No comments: