for Sunday, September 17, 2017
"Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven." - these words from the Book of Sirach remind us that forgiveness is a deep and necessary part of our spiritual tradition, handed down to us from our Jewish ancestors in faith. Jesus echoes this teaching when He gives us the "Our Father," which tells us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
The second reading today, from the Letter to the Romans, tells us that "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." And it is our Lord who tells us to forgive. If we want to follow Jesus, then we become people who forgive others, no matter what offense they do to us. Jesus is clear that to follow Him, we will suffer, so we must take up our cross daily and follow Him.
The Gospel from Matthew today is very strong. Jesus is so clear in His teaching to us: forgive everything from your heart! We are not allowed to hold on to anything against anybody. Rather, as Jesus teaches, we must go even further and help those who harm us and give to those who rob us. To follow Jesus is not easy and asks us to give ourselves completely to Him and to following Him. Christianity will never be a life of comfort, even though we may have comforts from time to time.
We can also ask ourselves today how we relate to those around us? Are we people who forgive others? Are we people who really seek to love and serve others? Do we seek to see Christ in others? Do we look for God's will in our lives and in the lives others?
Jesus always pulls our attention back to God and to the way God wants us to live. Always we are invited to see God in every situation and not ignore the divine presence. It is too easy for us to lose sight of God and to pay attention only to our human desires.
At the heart of the teachings of Jesus, at the heart of His own life, is this deep awareness of God's presence in all creation and in all peoples. Even in the agony of Jesus and in the Cross, Jesus keeps His heart with love for others.
Today, we are invited to forgive and to follow Jesus once more in a way that gives witness to the glory of God. Let us walk the way of the Lord.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Sirach 27.30 – 28.7
Second Reading: Romans 14.7-9
Gospel: Matthew 18.21-35
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: