Homily for the twenty-fourth Sunday of the Year - Year A - Mt. 18:21-35
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" Then Peter came up and said to him, «Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?» Jesus said to him, «I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.»
 
" «Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, "Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything." And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, "Pay what you owe." So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you." He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, "You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?" And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.»
 
" «So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.» "
 
 
 
Homily:
 
 
" Then Peter came up and said to him, «Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?» Jesus said to him, «I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.» "
 
When we think of our own sins, it is not difficult to conceive the idea of forgiveness: we all have, or should have, the desire that God forgive us and not hold against us the offenses we have committed against Him. But when we think of the wrongs that others have committed against us, the very idea of forgiveness becomes much more vague in our spirit...
 
This is what happens to Peter, in today's gospel: not yet having denied his Master, Peter does not really know what "forgiveness" is, for he does not experience within himself the feeling, the conviction that Jesus, who is God, has forgiven and remitted a debt, a debt for which Peter would weep for the rest of his life...
 
Peter is a great model in the Church: a model of faith and of love, a model of zeal for the Body of Christ, which is the Church. Despite his triple denial, Peter remains this model: for henceforth he knows what it is to "be forgiven", henceforth he knows that all his brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ want him to give them his own forgiveness! Peter is there, in the Church, a sinner among sinners, ready to forgive as he himself was forgiven!
 
" «When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, "You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?" And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.» "
 
Today is Sunday, September 11, 2011, which is ten years after the attacks in New York and Washington. On a personal level, I lost nothing in these attacks: I did not lose anyone or anything. And yet, I believe I have truly lost a little, or even much, of my humanity: how could my fellow men - those terrorists were men like you and me - kill millions of people?
 
You are wrong, you will say to me: there were only three or four thousand victims in New York on September 11, 2001. No doubt. But, whether or not it was intended, it is nonetheless true that the second tower of the World Trade Center was hit by an airplane after a time sufficiently long that millions, and I would even say tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of people were able to see it live on television! And that is a crime, a psychological crime!
 
Let us ask the Lord for forgiveness for all our sins... Let us ask the Lord for forgiveness for all the crimes that are committed each day in the world... Let us forgive all those who have sinned against us. "Our Father, who art in Heaven... Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..."
 
" «So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.» "
 
God is Father, a Father full of tenderness. But he is also a Father full of justice. If he allowed his Son to die on a Cross, it is for love but also for justice: the Father loves us so much that he did not want to condemn us without first offering us the possibility of our redemption, through the Blood of his own Son!
 
Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to teach us to forgive! Mary, as Mother of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, also understood, although with her Heart of a Mother conceived without sin, what it means to "be forgiven": so may she teach us to forgive in the measure of God's forgiveness!
 

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