Homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: Forgiveness and Reconciliation
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday September 6 2020
To harden our hearts towards God is the beginning of self destruction. Only God can properly direct our paths. He does this through different means and in a variety of ways. All of these means and ways open the human conscience to learn and interpret rightfully the words of wisdom from on high and they open the human heart to respond positively to God’s invitation. This involves our capacity to forgive and our disposition to receive forgiveness from God. It involves the openness to be reconciled with God and with our brothers and sisters. O that today, as we listen to the voice of God, may we never harden our hearts; Amen.
Disposition to forgiveness and reconciliation is one of the principle ways to show how open and docile our hearts are towards God and how attentive our conscience has grown in response to the Word of God. Hearts and consciences that are open and docile to God and to His Word are made known through their aptitude towards fellow human beings. These kinds of heart and conscience are fed by the power of God’s word, opening them up to forgiveness and reconciliation. Certainly, it is God who forgives and He is the One who reconciles. But also God has always entrusted the ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation to His servants. This ministry is exercised through a variety of ways, but most importantly through the Sacraments. The First Reading (Ezekiel 33:7-9) recounts the experience of the prophet Ezekiel as a minister of forgiveness and reconciliation among the people of Israel; “Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. If you do not speak to the wicked man, I will hold you responsible for his death.” In the Gospel Reading (Matthew 18:15-20), Christ made His wish known to His disciples, that the community of Christians should be a place to give and to receive forgiveness and reconciliation; “If your brother listens to you, you have won back your brother.” Forgiveness and reconciliation make the Christian life spiritually healthy and make the Christian Community the sphere of genuine and sincere divine-human communion! Forgiveness and reconciliation are divinely given experiences made both towards God and towards fellow human beings. With respect to God, He is always ready to forgive us our sins and to reconcile us to Himself when we sincerely come back to Him. We are the ones who sometimes run away from Him. Towards fellow men and women, we are either victims of people’s wrong doings or we are perpetrators. Whichever way it goes, we are intrinsically something superior. We are receivers and givers of forgiveness; we are agents of reconciliation. In all of these, we must allow ourselves be led by our experiences of forgiveness and reconciliation, effected by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is this experience that leads us back to God. This same experience brings us to build healthy human and ecclesia communities.
The Holy Spirit inspires and nurtures in us this positive disposition to forgiveness and reconciliation; and this disposition is rooted in the love within us for God and for fellow men and women. The very acts of forgiveness and reconciliation make love grow deeper and better expressed; leading the very act of love to its full manifestation and realization. Moreover, all of the means and ways through which God directs us to forgiveness and reconciliation, invites us principally to love; to love God and our neighbour as we heard in the Second Reading (Romans 13:8-10); “that is why love is the answer to every one of the Commandments.” To love is to live and to keep the commandments of God. To live according to God’s commandments is the most concrete sign that our hearts are not hardened towards God; it is the clearest sign that we are sons and daughters of God and that we are truly brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. To love is to forgive and to constantly grow in our disposition to reconcile. It is this same love that brings us together in prayer such that, in the words of Christ, “if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.” Love brings us together! Love builds us up! Love connects us to God our Father!
Loving Father, Your mercy keeps us going. You never cease to give us the opportunity to be reconciled with You. May our daily experience of Your merciful love and the example of your perennial disposition to reconciliation with us, lead us to become givers and receivers of forgiveness from one another and to grow deeper in the disposition to reconciliation; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE