A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – SEPT. 17TH, 2017 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Nobody likes being in debt. Nobody likes owing anything to anybody. But it is a reality of our modern life, that unless you have a whole lot of money at your disposal, when we buy expensive things like houses and cars, and maybe this week, we add to that list, cell phones, most of us do have to borrow money, to buy those big ticket items. Certainly today, we have a couple of generations now that still owe money and are paying on their educational loans. We have gotten very used to debt, and making payments, and receiving statements reminding us to pay our debts. Because of all of this, one of the great fears that modern man has, is not being able to pay our debts, not being able to re-pay our loans.
So, can you imagine what it would be like, going to your mailbox and getting a note that told you that all of your debts had been paid off. That actually, they had been paid in full! Our first reaction might be one of astonishment and joy. It would be a “Wow!” moment. But it wouldn’t take long, and our inquiring minds would kick in, and we would wonder, “So, what’s the catch?” If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true, right?
Well, isn’t this exactly what’s going on in the parable in our Gospel today? This servant has a huge, unpayable debt. He knows it. The king knows it. Maybe everybody knows it. And all of a sudden, this huge debt is fully forgiven by the king. The debt is gone. Obviously, the servant has a great sense of relief at what the king has done for him. But he doesn’t quite understand that now he is being called to be merciful and forgiving. And there’s the catch to this amazing deal! He, the servant, must forgive the debts of others, just as he, the servant, had been forgiven by the gracious king. And as we hear this parable today, it is the same catch to the deal, for all of us! Realizing, that in His great mercy, God has forgiven OUR sins, we are charged to be people of forgiveness to others. And that’s not always so easy.
You see, it is a whole lot easier to forget about our own sins. It is not comfortable for us to think about our own failings. We’d much rather concentrate on the good in ourselves. And yet, in sheer honesty, at some point all of us have to admit that we are sinners. And if you can’t admit that, then you are a liar, which is a sin, and so you are a sinner, either way! We do, all of us, in fact, sin! The self-absolution that has become so popular in our culture today, has deceived many into thinking that they don’t sin. Too often, our offenses, that break our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters, get reduced down to “poor choices”, when they are our fault. The same offenses are only terrible sins, when others that we don’t like do them. We excuse ourselves. And that’s a very dangerous assumption to make, the closer we get to judgement day! We have a God Who does want to forgive us. But we also have a God Who says that we must be forgiving to others in turn. Our experiencing God’s great love and mercy can help us to do that! Where do we get the strength and power to forgive like that? Only from God!
This is BIG forgiveness that we are called to offer. We are called to forgive not just once, and not just seven times. We are called to forgive seventy-seven times! We are called to forgive overwhelmingly, just as the king forgives the servant in the parable, just as God forgives each of us!
Jesus Himself leads the way for us, in the Gospel passages. He forgives the woman caught in adultery. He forgives Thomas for his doubting. He forgives Peter for denying Him three times. And Jesus forgives US!!! Can you imagine how different our world would be today, if all of us practiced this kind of forgiveness every day?
This is the message of Jesus that can change our world. This is also the message of Jesus that can change our lives. In Jesus Christ, we are set free. And we are made free, to set others free also. Let’s get busy doing that with our lives. We need God’s mercy. And there are others who need our mercy. It is an incredible deal. It does sound too good to be true. But with Jesus Christ, it all works together to help us get rid of our most serious debt, not our money, but our sins! And a hundred years from now, that’s all that’s going to matter.
+ May God bless us as seek to imitate His love and mercy, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN!!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!