Saturday, September 10, 2011

From His Heart

September 11, 2011

Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Forgive your neighbor's injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
Sirach 28:2-4

None of us lives for oneself, and no one 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 the Lord's.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Romans 14:7-9

"'Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’>Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” Matthew 18:33-35


Piety allows us to live in our need of the forgiveness of the Lord. God accepts us as we are in the love of Christ. The Father sees the Son in all that we have asked forgiveness. Jesus is our forgiveness. We must be his forgiveness for each other. Paul is the model of what our forgiveness needs to be. We need to be able to say with Paul that it gives us great joy to fill up what is wanting to the suffering of Christ. The suffering of Christ is the stuff our forgiveness is made. How we use our sufferings for the sake of each other is how we enter into the mystery of what forgiveness is all about. Peter in our gospel enters into the question of how often we should forgive. He makes the mistake of putting a number on how many times we ought to be forgiving. Christ when he says seventy-seven times takes forgiveness away from number of times into the realm of divine forgiveness. Jesus has become one of us so that we can have the human forgiveness of God. To be like Christ we must be forgiving people.


We study Christ to learn how to be a forgiving person. Christ uses the example of a king who forgives a great debt of his servant. The servant does not learn from being forgiven by the king. He goes out and beats a fellow servant who owed a lot less than what he had owed. That is the lesson of and for our forgiveness of one another. God has forgiven us so much more than we would ever need to forgive another. We limit God’s forgiveness for us by the poverty of our way of forgiving others. We pray the Our Father asking to be forgiven even as we forgive. How easy it is to say words without taking into account their meaning. We put foolish limits on God’s forgiveness for us by how poorly we forgive one another.


We need to celebrate pity for one another. It is not necessary to force forgiveness on others. They need their anger at us for whatever injustices we have done. It is better to ask forgiveness before we go to the Lord’s Supper. Forgiveness is their free gift to give. We cannot force another to forgive us. Repentance is what we foster in ourselves by making offerings for the sake of the one we hurt. It is not frequent that an offering can be made to the one injured. We make offering in their name to others that have need of our love. Love covers a multitude of sin. The body of Christ is less because of our sinfulness. The holier we are the more the Mystical Body of Christ grows. The People of God are the Mystical Body of Christ. What we do for one another is done for Christ. Sinfulness hurts the body of Christ.