August 13, 2015 THURSDAY, 19TH Week in Ordinary Time
Sts. Pontian, Pope and Martyr, and
Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr
Jos 3:7 -10a, 11, 13 – 17 / Mt 18:21 – 19:1
[Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus (d. 235) were martyred under the Emperor Maximinus Thrax.]
Reading: Jos 3:7 - 10a, 11, 13 – 17
Then Yahweh said to Joshua: "Today I will begin to make you great in the eyes of Israel and they shall know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Give this order to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: As soon as you come to the banks of the Jordan, stand still in the river." And Joshua said to the Israelites: "Come nearer and listen to the words of Yahweh, our God. Do you want a sign that Yahweh, the living God, is in your midst. See, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to cross the Jordan before you.
When the priests who carry the Ark of the Lord of all the earth put their feet into the water of the Jordan, the water coming from upstream shall stop flowing and stand in one single mass."
When the people set out from their camp to cross the Jordan, the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant went before them. There was much water in the Jordan, for it was overflow-ing its banks at this time of the barley harvest. Nevertheless, when those who carried the Ark went down to the river and their feet touched the edge of the water, the water from upstream stopped flowing.
The water stood still, forming something like a dam very far from that place, near Adam, the neighboring city of Zarethan. The water flowing down to the Dead Sea was completely cut off, and so the people could cross opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant remained in the middle of the river which dried up, until all the Israelites had crossed the Jordan.
Gospel: Mt 18:21 - 19:1
Then Peter asked him, "Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?" Jesus answered, "No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants. Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand gold ingots. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, children and all his goods in payment.
The official threw himself at the feet of the king and said, 'Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.' The king took pity on him and not only set him free but even canceled his debt.
This official then left the king's presence and he met one of his companions who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost strangled him, shouting, 'Pay me what you owe!' His companion threw himself at his feet and asked him, 'Give me time, and I will pay everything.' The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt.
His companions saw what happened. They were indignant and so they went and reported everything to their lord. Then the lord summoned his official and said, 'Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed when you begged me to do so. Weren't you bound to have pity on your companion as I had pity on you?' The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt."
Jesus added, "So will my heavenly Father do with you unless each of you sincerely forgive your brother or sister."
When Jesus had finished this teaching, he left Galilee and arrived at the border of Judea, on the other side of the Jordan River.
The Gospel reading speaks of the necessity that we forgive one another, "not seven times, but seventy-seven times" because we should be merciful and compassionate as our heavenly Father.
We may find not so hard to forgive those we like. But it is not easy to forgive those whom we do not like or who have gravely injured us. .
It takes God's grace to soften our hearts, to look beyond the offense committed against us, and to understand the offender. Then we may realize that the offender may not really know what he/she has done or that the offense is really not that great or that we may have over-stated the harm done to us.
More important, God's grace will remind us of God's mercy and forgiveness to us for our own many offenses and that God will forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.
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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