Homily for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday Year A

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Homily for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday Year A

First Reading and the Gospel focus on the question of forgiveness. In the first reading the issue is approach from two different perspectives.  Should we act one way towards others and expect God to act differently with us? Remember your last days—death and decay—if you do not forgive. Cease from the sin of non-forgiveness and the storing up of anger and revenge.

Listen to the opening statement. “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.” Many times we have an eye for eye mentality, which is the opposite to what God commands and expects from us. We are commanded to forgive the sins of others, so that our own sins may be forgiven. 

When we pray the Our Father, we ask God to forgive us as we promise to forgive others. But in action, many times, we do the opposite.

When we refuse to forgive others after God has generously forgiven us, we fail to take into account the fact that God will hold us accountable at the end of our life. That is why the prophet says: “Remember your last days.” Remember we will die and our eternity will be determined by our actions. Refusal to forgive another tells God not to forgive us in the end. Forgiveness is not an option. It is an absolute necessity. There is no double standard here: we can’t refuse to forgive another and still expect God to forgive us.

Second Reading reminds us of the fact of our faith: Because of Jesus’ death on the cross by which he saved us from eternal damnation and alienation from God, we belong to him. He is the Lord of our lives. In another Letter Paul says we are slaves of the Lord. How conscious are we of this reality, namely, we belong to the Lord both in life and in death? If we were conscious of this, would we act differently in reference to holding grudges and non-forgiveness towards another? “None of us lives for ourselves. If we live we live for the Lord and if we die, we die for the Lord.”  To live for the Lord and in the Lord is to forgive as he has forgiven us without restriction.  It is our relationship with the Lord that should determine how we live in relationship to others.

The Gospel Reading reminds us that there is no limit to our need to forgive another, no matter how the extent of our injury from that person. We have sinned against God far greater than what any other person can do against us. We have received from God unmerited and unconditional mercy as a free gift. But that gift needs to be responded to with mercy on our part to others. In the parable that Jesus uses, the ungrateful servant forgot this. His master showed him mercy over justice. But he, in turn, demanded justice over mercy when had the opportunity. In this he sealed his own fate.

There is a story that fits this scenario. A woman in hell was complaining that she should not be there because she must have done some good deeds in her life. God was merciful. He lowered a rope for her to grab on to. She did. But as she was being pulled up, others in hell grabbed on to the same roe. In her desperation she began to kick and push each one off the rope. It was hers. All of a sudden the rope broke and she fell back into hell. God said: “The reason you are in hell is because when mercy was shown you, you refused mercy to others in your lifetime.

The last statement of the Gospel shows what true forgiveness entails. It is not lip service. “My Father will do to you the same, unless each of you forgives your brothers from your heart.” If God’s forgiveness of us is total, unmerited, out of love then that is the same measure we are to use in our relationship to others.

In reality, what Jesus is saying is that un-forgiveness is ingratitude to God. To choose to harbor un-forgiveness towards another while asking God for his forgiveness is a mockery to God. That is why in the parable the ungrateful servant was treated so harshly. Can we expect anything less?




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