TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, yet a sinner holds on to them. The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance, for he keeps a strict account of their sins. Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. Does anyone harbor anger against another, and expect healing from the Lord? If one has no mercy toward another like himself, can he then seek pardon for his own sins? If a mere mortal harbors wrath, who will make an atoning sacrifice for his sins? Remember the end of your life, and set enmity aside; remember corruption and death, and be true to the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbor; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook faults.
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits— who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
Brothers and sisters:
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Perhaps nothing identifies a Christian so well as a forgiving spirit that harbors no resentment. The Lord makes it very clear in the Gospel how important it is to forgive others. It is a decision that rebounds directly to us and affects our health.
We are urged to consider our last days and ‘final things’. Once we have experienced the death of a loved one, we gain a perspective unlike any other. We know how short life can be. We know that a person’s life is often summed up in just a few sentences of tribute. We know that only the most significant moments are worth remembering and therefore, death reveals that annoyance, outrage, slights, or unfairness is simply a waste of time and effort. Only God can judge accurately. Only faith, hope and love will last.
The readings today are so pertinent as our nation experiences violence in the streets. No one who behaves violently and wrathfully is righteous in their thinking. No one who destroys property and causes fear is of God. We need to pray for the repentance of rioters and those who fund them.
A canonized saint is someone who has been radical in their forgiveness. The governor of Umbria cut off the hands of St. Sabinus because instead of adoring an idol, he broke it in pieces. The governor then began to suffer intense pain behind his eyes and called on the saint to pray for him. Sabinus did pray and the governor was healed and his soul was saved. To love your enemies is a heavenly revenge.
St. Baptist Verani said, “If I called a dead person back to life, I would be less certain of being loved by God than when I am prepared to do good to him who has done evil to me.” If we love and forgive others, we can be certain of forgiveness ourselves.
Today, ask for the grace to pray for someone who has offended you and if possible, try to do them some good. Thank God then, for forgiving you.