HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
HOMILY THEME: FORGIVE AND YOU WILL LIVE!
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
In the day’s Gospel Jesus reveals the beauty of the Christian Faith. He teaches His apostles the importance of forgiveness. This is a recurring theme of the history of our salvation. God did not only command His people to forgive but witnessed to it. Peter asked the Lord Jesus how often must one forgive. Jesus’ answer was very Jewish. While He said seventy-seven times, it actually means without limit since for the Jews, the number seven stands for perfection. But Jesus did not stop there. He told them the parable of the forgiving master and the unforgiving servant. We know the story. The servant was forgiven of his big debt but failed to do the same to his fellow servant. When the master knew about it, he reminded the servant of what he received from him. As a consequence, the servant was handed over to the torturers until he could pay his debt. The same fate awaits those of us who will not forgive.
The First Reading from the Book of Sirach says something about vengeance, wrath, and anger which are very much related to forgiveness. It says that all of us had sin against God. And according to the response in today’s Psalm, “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.” We are always beneficiaries of God’s mercy. But it should not stop there. God wants us to render the same to our neighbours. Revenge has no place in a Christian’s heart. This is a very important and good feature of our faith. Violence, revenge, and anger are perfect ingredient of escalation of sin. We do not participate in it. We ought to be peacemakers. Finally, when we forgive, when we choose not to get even, our own sins will be forgiven when we go before the Lord and ask forgiveness.
Finally, St Paul, in the Second Reading gives a good incentive and consolation in being forgiving. he said, ‘None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.” This is the root of unforgiveness —selfishness. The reason why we are unforgiving is because we care too much for our egos;
“First, the one who hates me must apologize.”
“The one who hurt me is not sorry he hurt me.”
“If I forgive he will just hurt me again.”
“If I forgive I will look like I am weak or look like I was the one guilty. I will look like a fool.”
“It still hurts me; when it no longer hurts, I will forgive.”
‘I will teach him a lesson first, then I will forgive.” In the Lord’s prayer and in the parable in the Gospel today, there were no such conditions. Jesus gave no excuses. We ought not to find excuses. Forgive and you will live!