WITH ST. MARY'S
THE TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Recognition of total forgiveness helps us persevere in love.
TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Developing a relationship with God and falling in love with your faith is the most wonderful thing that could happen to you. Finally, your life has meaning, you feel accepted totally by the love of God, and you understand that you have found, and are seeking more of, the Truth. However, things can also get pretty lonely; being religious in this day and age is not exactly popular, and leaving behind a life of sin or selfishness might also mean leaving behind relationships that enabled those things. Loneliness can lead to bitterness, bitterness can lead to hatred, and hatred will bring us right back into sin. This is why we hear in the book of Sirach that wrath and anger are hateful things, so we must forgive. We are comforted by the words of Paul that in life and death, we are never alone - we live and die in Christ. These two concepts may have more to do with each other than we realize.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
Even when we do get lonely, we can strengthen ourselves again through this message from Paul in this Sunday’s second reading: if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. That means modeling our entire selves on the way in which Christ conducted himself in his earthly life. Was Christ ever lonely? Of course - he told his followers that the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head. He also was left alone when arrested and put to death. That loneliness didn’t lead to bitterness, anger, or hatred in a way that might happen to any one of us; instead, that loneliness was followed by the power of forgiveness. He forgave the men who crucified him while still on the cross. He forgave those who abandoned him by returning to them after his resurrection. He forgave Peter for denying him three times by offering him love and trust three times. If we are actually living for our Lord or dying for our Lord, there is no room in our hearts for bitterness, anger, or hatred. We must do as he did; we must forgive. In his infinite wisdom, Christ very much predicted all the rejection and loneliness he would face. When Peter approaches him in this Sunday’s Gospel to ask about how often he must forgive, Jesus shares a parable. In other parts of the Gospel, Jesus tells his closest Apostles that he only uses parables to those who cannot understand the Truth plainly. The fact that he needs to give Peter, his closest follower, a parable to understand forgiveness reveals to us that he knew Peter did not understand the power of forgiveness at this time.The Parable is an allegory of our relationship with God: there is no hatred in God’s heart after we abandon Him, but only forgiveness in mercy. We must admit and understand that it is us who abandon him when we sin, not just those who rejected Christ during his public ministry or at his arrest. We have been offered ultimate and perfect forgiveness through Christ despite not deserving it, yet when placed in the same situation, we allow the act of being rejected, abandoned, or wronged in some way to fester into hatred, not forgiveness. God forgives all: everyone and totally. But what does it say about our acceptance of His forgiveness if we cannot forgive on our own? If we reject His offer, He will respectfully accept our choice, but we must understand Christ’s words: “So will my Heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” Let your passion and newfound love for the Lord inspire you to model him in his capacity to forgive. Even in the face of loneliness or abandonment, we have the opportunity to do to others what God has done for us.