My homily for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091717.cfm
Our Lord gives us a very clear mandate: if you and I want him to forgive us, we must forgive those who hurt us. This is not an optional element in our lives. What does the Gospel say? We have two men who owe a debt. The first one owes a huge debt to the king-something equivalent to 20 years worth of salary. It would take a massive amount of time for him to pay off the debt-some have tried to do the math and one guess is it would take 167 years for him to pay off the debt. The other owes about 100 days worth of salary. That’s a huge difference.The king pardons the debt of the one who owes a massive debt. To forgive doesn’t meant to ignore the problem, but to acknowledge it and still to pardon. The now free man then encounters on of his peers who owes a tiny debt. How does he react? Well he seizes him, chokes him, and throws him into prison.
The King represents God forgiving us many sins. The debtor who chokes his peer represents us who have forgotten how we have been forgiven great sins by God. On our own, without a repentant heart, we are like that servant who chokes his peer. We forget that God has forgiven us great things. It can be difficult to forgive others, especially when they really hurt us. We don’t do this on our own-we must rely on the help of the Holy Spirit. The more we allow God to draw closer to us in prayer and going to the Sacrament of confession, the stronger we will become, the more we will be able to forgive. The closer one draws to a fire, the warmer one becomes. The more we will see those around us not as adversaries, but as brothers and sisters who are also sinners.
We just need to look at our Lord on the cross. There we can see the ugliness of sin: his skin is ripped off, his head is adorned with a crown of massive thorns, he barely has any clothing, if any. Sin is ugly and painful. Yet what are his words from the cross? “Father forgive them.” This should draw us always to want to be close to him-in coming to confession to ask his forgiveness, to express our sorrow for our sin. We should be looking for ways to carve out time for prayer-for spending time with Him-throughout our day. It is only in doing that that we can respond to our Lord’s demand that we forgive those around us.