Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary time, 13 September 2020
“Blessed are the Merciful...”
“So also my heavenly Father will do to you if your do not each forgive your brother from your heart.” Mt. 18:35
We know from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, that mercy others is so important; Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Mt. 5:7. In today’s readings, we see the great mercy which God extends to all of us, and our need also to be merciful to others then we “shall obtain mercy” in return. Not only has Jesus given us mercy, but He has also promised us eternal life: “For to this end Christ died and rose again; that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Rom. 14:9 This implies that, Jesus, as Lord of the dead, will lead us to eternal life with His mercy to us. God is our creator and we are His creatures who owe everything to him: “For none of us liveth to himself; and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord's. Rom. 14:7-8 On earth everyone lives for God, and He is their only judge! It is not what people do to us that matters, but what they do to God by hurting us. Their sins against us are even more serious as they offend God too (and even more):“For none of us liveth to himself;” Rom. 14:7.
The Enormity of the Debt of our Sins
In today’s gospel (Mt. 18:21-35), we see how clearly Jesus makes the whole teaching on forgiveness with the parable of “the Unmerciful Servant.” Who does not look at the unmerciful servant with both surprise and anger! He has been forgiven an enormous debt of 10,000 talents (almost a million pounds or dollars). After the gracious King had been so forgiving of his debt, he does not forgive a fellow servant a debt (probably, no more than a hundred pounds, if that). No wonder his fellow servants tell the king of his severity which not only does not forgive the debt but sends him to prison too. The King, of course, is angry: “Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?” Mt. 18: 32-33 The dramatic irony of this situation is that we are that ungrateful servant. God has forgiven us an enormous debt—more than millions of pounds/dollars that we could never repay! These are our sins! Someone will insult us for what we have done and we won’t forgive them. We won’t even talk to them again! St. Teresa of Avila said: “We deserve insults for our many sins, and if people really knew how wicked we really are, they would be even more insulting.” Certainly, if we want God to forgive us our sins, then we must forgive those who have offended us. Do not we say in the Our Father, “And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Mt. 6:12 In the final denouement of this parable, we a most severe King punish the unmerciful servant: And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not everyone his brother from your hearts. Mt. 18:34-35 Sometimes, there is more sin than the lack of forgiveness; in today’s First Reading from the Book of Ecclesiasticus (27:30- 28:7) where the Lord says: “He that seeketh to revenge himself, shall find vengeance from the Lord, and He will surely keep his sins in remembrance. Eccl. 28:1
“None of us lives to himself...we are the Lord’s.” Rom. 14: 7-8
When we think in terms of being God, creatures and servants, then our life has to believe in God’ presence. He has extended us mercy and as our King and Creator, and we must forgive our neighbour his offenses against us. As Jesus is both “the Lord of the living and the dead”, we must examine our lives in terms of both life and death. Jesus has paid the price of our sins and promised us eternal life in heaven if we obey His Commandments. Could any master be more generous as to cancel our debt and then give us eternal life! St. Paul in the Second Reading from the Epistle to the Romans (14:7-9), tells us that the basis for our mercy to others is that we all belong to God. He is our creator, our redeemer from our sins and our and our heavenly King who will reward us with eternal life: “For none of us liveth to himself; and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose again; that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Rom. 14:7-9 God owns us, He created us and He wants to give us a share in His divine life in this life with sanctifying grace and in heaven for all eternity.