Reflection for 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” We know that Jesus’s teaching can be challenging and difficult to put into practice.
Why should we forgive? Perhaps the straightforward answer could be… because Jesus asks us to forgive. Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. (Sirach 27:30) Sirach’s writing certainly applies to us today. We know the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual effects of holding a grudge, i.e. not forgiving someone. Loss of sleep, stress, health issues, bitterness, mistrust are just a few of the possible effects that might occur.
Jesus provides us an example of how to forgive. Jesus’s words on the cross: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Consider some of the gospel passages about forgiveness (there are many): the parable of the prodigal son, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the good thief on the cross and today’s gospel of the merciless servant.
Sirach’s words: Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! We are to consider the “bigger” picture, i.e. to focus on eternal life with Jesus Christ. St. Paul speaks similarly:
Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no ones dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are Lord’s. This is a reminder that our life is given to us by God, and through our Baptism, we are called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, sharing in His mission, which includes building the Kingdom of God through forgiveness as well!
What do we do when we can’t forgive someone? While looking at the crucifix, consider praying a prayer like: Jesus, I can’t forgive this person. Give me grace to forgive. Thus, we acknowledge that we need Jesus’s help to forgive and our strength alone is not sufficient.
Let’s also remember that we have been forgiven countless times by Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliaton. Jesus’s teaching in today’s gospel is very clear… God’s mercy has no boundaries. The merciless servant placed on limit on God’s mercy.
As we celebrate Catechetical Sunday today, we thank those men and women who serve our parish as Catholic school teachers, catechists, RCIA instructors and especially the primary teacher of the faith to children – parents!
May God bless us all always!