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Back The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Friday, September 11, 2020
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
Last weekend, Matthew the Evangelist turned our attention from the characteristics of God-fearing Christian leadership to attributes of life among believers. The Gospel lesson included the wisdom of going directly to the person who “sins against you.” Why gossip and degrade another to others, when you may have not even investigated the validity of the perceived sin that one has committed against you?
This weekend, Matthew gives us yet another installment of the attributes of life among believers. This weekend’s topic is forgiveness. St. Peter poses the question to Jesus about how many times must he forgive one who sins against him? In the rabbinical teaching at the time one was obligated to forgive up to three times. Matthew enlarges his generosity towards others in suggesting seven times. Even the number “seven” contains a symbol of perfection, but Jesus enlarges the answer to be not seven times but seventy-seven times or the perfect amount of times multiplied to infinity.
The wisdom literature of the Bible offers insight into forgiveness with this weekend’s lesson from Sirach. “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.” (Sirach 27:30). “Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” (Sirach 28:2). This little piece of wisdom is echoed in the story about the debtor and the forgiveness of what he had owed to another that Jesus makes His point about forgiveness in this week’s Biblical lesson. It is also echoed in the word’s of the “Lord’s Prayer;” “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
We know that true forgiveness takes time. True forgiveness requires an admission of how we had been hurt by another first, then to ourselves. As with gossip, this admission of hurt needs to be expressed, if possible, to the one who has hurt us. One then needs to pray for the strength to offer forgiveness to another. The more serious the sin usually means the more difficult the experience of forgiveness. Yet with Jesus by our side “all things are possible.” Let us live that Kingdom value of “forgiveness” one to another.