Gospel Reflection Sep 13 – Msgr Hendricks
Sunday, September 13
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 18: 21-35
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
In Chapter 18 of his gospel Matthew sets out the teaching of Jesus on life in the Christian Community. Remember, he is writing some 50 years or so after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In so doing, the Christian community, young and fragile, has changed from the early days of enthusiasm after the resurrection and St. Paul references the struggles in today’s second reading. He urges his listeners not to rush to judgement of one another.
Mainly, the story of the gospel today reminds us that forgiveness comes from God and this forgiveness is readily at our disposal no matter how despondent we have become, and because of our faith in the Lord Jesus we know we can always come back home to Him. There is not a sin too great, or too deep to separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8).
The problem that the servant who was forgiven much debt, when approached by one who owed him a fraction of the amount he was forgiven, is that he either forgot or chose to forget the compassion that was given to him by the Lord (for in the gospel today the king in the story is the Lord Himself). So the lesson in the gospel is the lesson we pray at each Mass, “forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Often in life and especially in our society today that is charged with COVID, political polarization, civil unrest, and absolute talk, we forget the main reason why we are here, to Love God above all else and to love our neighbor as our self.