Saturday, September 10, 2005
24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
SEPTEMBER 11, 2005
24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The
vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance, for he remembers their sins
in detail. Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your
own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another
like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but
flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last
days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay,
and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your
neighbor; remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.
Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for
oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die
for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For
this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both
the dead and the living.
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 one of his fellow servants 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
The common theme for most action movies is revenge. The hero has to
avenge the torture and death of a loved one. The bad guys have to pay.
They too must suffer a violent death. It is a popular escape from the
harsh reality, wherein bad guys often get away with murders. In the
real world, countless rapes, murders, massacres, kidnaps are still
unresolved after so many years. The murder of Ninoy Aquino, Caesar
Climaco, and so many less known people are still unsolved and
forgotten. At least in the movies, the bad guys get
what they deserve.
Just like the Sicilians, many oriental cultures look to vengeance as a
debt of honor, a sacred obligation.
The Old Testament injunction of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a
tooth" was not meant to demand vengeance, but to put a limit, to avoid
excesses in vengeance. For losing a tooth, you cannot knock off all
the teeth of your enemy - only one may be allowed.
The modern society, apparently more civilized, also knows such
mechanisms even though they usually function more discreetly. To
forgive is considered an act of weakness; while to avenge oneself is
the normal of the person. One only has to look back at the newspapers
to find the sad litany of retaliations and crimes of vengeance.
Without going to such extremes, we all harbor secret resentments and
subtle desire for vengeance - be it a colleague, who betrayed us, an
arrogant boss, an unfriendly neighbor. Vengeance is our natural
reaction, when someone has wronged us. Of course once our desire for
vengeance is satisfied, our opponent reacts in turn by getting even
with us at the first opportunity. Thus, a spiral of retaliations is
initiated and the violence can go on escalating.
Today's Gospel parable shows us how to break the vicious cycle even
before it gets started: through forgiveness. No doubt the king first
reacts by ordering the servant with a bad debt to be sold as a slave.
His desire for vengeance is also his primary reaction. But he lets
himself be moved by the wretched man cowering at his feet. He changes
his mind and crushes his own verdict, thus breaking away from the
devilish trap, which threatens to encircle him. His decision is
courageous, his generosity royal. As it is with God, he
too would have every reason in the world to demand a vigorous account
of our faults and sins. But God chooses to forgive.
The whole history of the relationship between God and Israel is a
history of forgiveness. God did everything for the people. A hundred
times Israel turned her back on her God, and a hundred times God
We may think God's unlimited forgiveness applies more to some
horrible crime or some heinously contemptible action; one of those
unspeakable deeds, which shock honest people. But our little sins such
as backbiting, uncharitable remarks about others, shady business deals,
occasional extra-marital love affairs, overindulgence at meals,
negligence at work, fits of anger, are nothing to make a fuss about.
We think we simply rank among the reasonable average people: neither
saints nor criminals.
When it comes to the pure love of God, those who see things from God's
point of view know the depth of sin. Before the pure love and the
absolute tenderness of God the least rejection is a serious offense.
Our mistake when judging our sins is that we look at ourselves instead
of looking at God. But as soon as we grasp something of this
unutterable meekness, we discover at the same time the hidden face of
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us, "Pardon and you will be pardoned."
Jesus assures us that we find salvation and we find God in our brothers
and sisters. We are fashioning our eternal future by the way we treat
The Gospel challenges us to make an act of faith, not so much in
abstract truths of dogma, but rather in the living presence of God in
every man, woman, and child we meet.
How often can I forgive? How often do I expect to be forgiven? If we
understand our own wayward hearts, if we honestly face the sorry record
of our lives, we should have no trouble figuring out the answer.
The following true story illustrates what Jesus meant by
forgiveness. Over a hundred years ago in France, a butler attached to
a wealthy family knew the family kept all their wealth hidden in a
vault underneath the chateau. He methodically plotted to kill everyone
in the family and steal the treasure. One night, when everyone was
asleep, he murdered the father and mother first, and then, one by one,
the children. Only the youngest escaped because he had heard noises
and couldn't sleep. When he realized what was
happening, he quietly slipped out of his room and hid in a closet under
a pile of clothes.
For years he wandered the streets as an orphan, and later he entered
the seminary and became a priest. Eventually he was assigned to
Devil's Island as a chaplain. One afternoon, a convict came running in
from the fields, frantically calling for the chaplain, "There's a man
dying out in the field, Father, come quickly."
The priest ran out with him and reached the dying man. Kneeling down
beside him, he lifted the man's head onto his lap and asked if he would
like to confess his sins. The dying man refused. "Why, my son?" the
priest asked. "Because God will never forgive me for what I have done,"
replied. "But what have you done?" the priest continued.
And the man went on to tell the story of how he murdered this whole
family so he could have their money and only one little boy escaped
because he couldn't find him.
Then the priest said to him, "If I can forgive you, certainly God can
forgive you. And I forgive you with all my heart. It was my family
you murdered, and I am that little boy."
The convict cried and told the priest how he had been haunted all his
life over what he had done, though no one else knew about it. Even the
authorities never found out.
The two men cried together. And as the priest was giving the dying man
absolution, the man died with his head resting on the priest's lap.
Here is another true-to-life reconciliation: In 1976, the World
Assembly of the Christian Life Community (CLC) was held in Baguio.
There were more than 200 delegates from about 60 countries from all
continents of the world attending. One of my friends, who assigned to
help in the secretariat came from San Pablo, Laguna, where her family
suffered terribly from the Japanese atrocities during the Second World
War. Because of her trauma, she had a hidden resentment against the
Japanese. She told me that whenever any Japanese delegate would come
to the secretariat, she would leave the room.
Then late one night, she went to the chapel to pray. In the
darkness, she thought she was alone. Minutes later, when her eyes
adjusted to the darkness of the chapel, she saw another person there.
It was a Japanese woman delegate praying. A voice inside my friend
told her, "Look, you are praying to the same God she is praying to."
That was the moment of conversion for my friend. From that chapel
experience, she learned to forgive the Japanese. Her spirit felt
liberated. After that time, she was able to work with the Japanese CLC
for a number of apostolic projects in Mindanao.
Let's close with the familiar Prayer of St. Francis:
"Lord, make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
"Grant that I may never seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- for the special intentions of George & Carolina Wee & Family.
- for the special intentions of Miko Peña.
- for the enlightenment of Patrick Batallones.
- in thanksgiving and for the personal intentions of Soter Pobari
- for the speedy recovery of Annika Nadine Uy.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Prayer Intention: Nañagas Family
- Wedding Anniversary: David & Lucy Lim
- In Memoriam: Virginia Tan
- for the healing of Ceferino Radoc Picache who has colon cancer and
for his family's intention
- for the intentions of Romy, Amy and the Kids, protect them from harm.
- for the speedy recovery of Aida and Phet, and Tony to get a stable
- for the personal intention of Mr. & Mrs. Terence Dunleavy.
- for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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