YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: FORGIVENESS
BY: Fr. Justin Nzekwe
HOMILY: Sometimes, one of our greatest challenges as Christians is to forgive others. We find no reason to forgive someone who hurt us intentionally, and even when we forgive, we still struggle to forget and thereby harboring perpetual hatred for those we perceived as our enemies. We wish that our enemies will meet their downfall as a reward for how bad they treated us, yet we expect God to forgive us even when we sin again and again. Apostle Peter in the gospel reading of today asked Jesus, “how many times must I forgive my brother?” Jesus answered him, “Seventy times seven”. Jesus’ answer simply implies that as Christian, we have to forgive without limits, just as God forgives us without limits.
The first reading reminds us that for our prayer to be answered, we must forgive those who offend us, since we all are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. The book of Sirac tells us: “Forgive your neighbor the hurt he does to you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.” Forgiveness has a great positive impact in us, as well as in others. Bearing grudges make us prisoners of our own selves. When we do not forgive, we remain in the chains of hatred which steals our joy and inner peace. Inability to forgive others makes us worried at our silent moments, and to lose our trust in 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. Forgiveness has a double effect, when we forgive we liberate those who offend us, and also receive healing from our hurts. Another dimension of forgiveness is that we sometimes feel bad for our past actions and mistakes that we also refused to forgive ourselves for behaving badly. We end up living in a 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 each time we repent and ask for forgiveness.
We are therefore invited today to always forgive ourselves and to forgive others regardless of what they did to us. Each time we pray the Padre Nostro, and say “Forgive us our offences, as we forgive those who offend us.” We must always remember that we owe God the duty to forgive others. Jesus at the pain of the cross still prayed that God will forgive his killers for they do not know what they are doing. We therefore pray in the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace: Where there is hatred, let me bring Love, Where it is offended, that I bring forgiveness.” And may the Lord grant us the grace in this holy mass to forgive others so as to be forgiven. Amen.
-Fr. Justin Nzekwe