Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 17, 2017
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 130

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
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 your brother from your heart."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings challenge us to forgive each other. Gathered here are some thoughts on forgiveness that reflect the teachings of St. Francis de Sales:

Forgiveness is hard to do. While we desire to forgive, we still let our feelings of anger sway us. Yet, if we let anger reign in our heart it grows from a twig to a large branch. The greatest motive for not harboring anger in our heart is that it does not allow us to flourish as a healthy, lively human being. Forgiveness, on the other hand, leads to our wholeness in Christ, whose Spirit floods our hearts with eternal love.

Yet, deep hurts that return again and again remind us that they can never be fully eliminated. Just when we think we’ve been victorious in forgiving, we find our anger stirred up again in our hearts. We’ve thrown it out the front door, but like a strong wind, anger comes again through a back window in need of repair.

Nonetheless, we do not have to let our weaknesses control our lives. God does not order us to keep anger from coming into our heart, only that anger ought not to reign in our heart. Little by little we become forgiving as we very gently put our heart back into God’s hands and ask God to heal it. Tell God how you desire to forgive as Jesus forgives. For it is in Jesus that we must place all our affections.

By nurturing sacred love in our heart through prayer and the sacraments, we become open to the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness comes more fully when we allow our Savior to enter our hearts and explore the rooms that require repairing. We must not be disturbed but rather glory in our infirmities so that God’s power may shine through us. Our deepest hurts remind us of our own weaknesses, and of our need to be more compassionate with others’ weaknesses. In that lies the power of forgiveness.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)