HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
THEME: OBSTACLES OF FORGIVENESS.
BY: Fr. Justin Nzekwe.
Sometimes, we find it difficult to forgive those who offend us. We hardly forgive those who hurt us intentionally, and even if we forgive them, we still do not forget how they hurt us, and therefore we harbor in our hearts a perpetual hatred for them. We always wish that our enemies will meet their downfall as a reward for how bad they treated us, yet we expect God to forgive us regardless of the gravity of our offenses again him. We often behave like the unforgiving servant in the parable in gospel reading of today, who owes his master so much debt that he cannot be able to pay, even if his entire property and family is sold. He cried and asked for forgiveness and his master forgave him and canceled his debt, but on stepping outside, he saw another servant who owes him very little sum of money, and he apprehended him. He refused to have mercy on him, but rather threw him into prison. Hence, Apostle Peter asked Jesus: “how many times must I forgive my brother?” Jesus answered him, “Seventy times seven”. Jesus’ answer simply implies that as Christians, there is no limit to forgiveness. We have to forgive others as many times as possible, just as God always forgives us each time we ask him for pardon.
The first reading presents us with anger as an obstacle to forgiveness. Our inability to forgive others has both physical and spiritual effects on us. Physically, it can make us develop some sicknesses that could affect our wellbeing, and spiritually, it prevents us from praying well, since an angry heart cannot not pray well. The book of Siracide tells us: “Perdona l’offesa al tuo prossimo e allora per la tua preghiera ti saranno rimessi i peccati.” This implies that for our prayers to be answered, we must forgive those who offend us, since we all are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. Hence, forgiveness has a great positive impact on us, as well as on others. Bearing grudges make us prisoners of our own selves. When we do not forgive, we remain in the chains of hatred which steal our inner joy and peace. Our inability to forgive others makes us agitated at our silent moments, and makes it difficult for us to trust people. It creates the mindset in us that we are hated and that everyone we meet will end up hurting us. It makes us think that we are different and more righteous than others. It gives us a victim mentality which makes us to think that even those who wish to correct us are also our enemies. Sometimes, we also refuse to forgive ourselves because of our bad choices, personal mistakes and actions of the past. We live in perpetual agony and guilt even after confessing our sins. We fail to understand that the love and mercies of God is endless, and that he forgives us and forget our sins each time we repent and ask for his forgiveness. We are therefore invited today to always forgive ourselves and to forgive others regardless of their offenses against us. When we forgive others, we liberate them from the bondage of guilt, and also we liberate ourselves and heal our broken heart from within. Each time we pray the Padre Nostro, and say “rimetti a noi i nostri debiti, come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori.” We must always remember that we owe God the duty to forgive others. Jesus in the midst of his painful crucifixion, prayed that God may forgive his killers for they do not know what they are doing. We therefore pray with Saint Francis of Assisi in this holy mass, saying: “Signore, fa di me uno strumento della Tua Pace: Dove è odio, fa ch’io porti l’Amore, Dove è offesa, ch’io porti il Perdono.” Amen.
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