- Today’s Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 18: 21-35) addresses the necessity of repentance and repeated forgiveness that are required of those who call themselves Christian.
What does it mean to forgive? First of all, forgiveness implies that there is something to forgive. Whether it’s something big or small, the need for forgiveness means somebody has done something wrong. By forgiving, one is no longer under the control of the past sinful act that he/she suffered. We know that Jesus demands boundless forgiveness of his disciples. Forgiving and showing mercy, however are not always simple matters.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that those involved will be reconciled immediately. Nevertheless, it begins the healing process and helps to remove feelings of revenge.
To ignore Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness has serious implications in this life and in the next.
Do we really believe that our eternal destiny and salvation are harmed or hindered by our inability to forgive while we are on this earth? How do we do justice and show mercy?
These are certainly not easy questions for us to answer but they are worth reflecting with Matthew Gospel.
That is why we need to listen closely to the words of Sirach in today’s first reading (27: 30 - 28: 7) “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”
- This past week, we remembered another anniversary of September 11th, the theme of the Scriptures this week lends us an occasion to think more deeply again; let us repeat the prayer offered by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during his historic and moving visit to Ground Zero in New York City on Sunday, April 20, 2008. As we pray these words, let us beg the Lord to make us instruments and bearers of his forgiveness and reconciliation to the broken world around us:
O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain.
We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders: our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.
We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.
We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all. AMEN.
- Please be generous to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection. Annually, this special collection (will be taken next weekend at all Masses - September 20th) come to our attention in order to challenge us to bring HOPE to the poor (C.H.D.).
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) allocates funds to community projects that promote the mission and vision of CCHD while adhering to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church. Please visit www.usccb.org/cchd to view funding criteria and see a detailed list of the most recent grants and annual report.
Fr. Phuong Hoang