CONTENTS OF THIS SECTION
- Readings for the Sunday.
- Reflective Questions. For private or group use.
- Focusing the Gospel.
- Connecting the Gospel.
- Understanding Scripture.
SUGGESTION BEFORE YOU READ THE SCRIPTURES TODAY.
Try not to read just to read it and get through it like a job to be done. Got my drift? We can do this so easily. Take the Readings slowly….as you read, you might like to read it aloud. The sounds of the words help us concentrate and it helps us reflect as we read. Try and be aware of your breathing before you even start….it is better to be at 5 k.p.h that 50! Enable words and meanings to gently jump out at you….soothingly take note in your mind as to what teases you as you read and see God’s Word. Don’t forget that the First Reading is always linked to the Gospel…..see if you can pick up the links.
First Reading: Sirach 27:30 – 28:7
A reading from the book of Ecclesiasticus
Forgive your neighbour’s faults and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. Resentment and anger, these are foul things, and both are found with the sinner. He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin.
Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord?
Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins? Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?
Remember the last things, and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments.
Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offence.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm: Ps 102:1-4. 9-12
R. The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger and rich in compassion.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord, all my being, bless his holy name. My soul, give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings. R.
It is he who forgives all your guilt, who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave, who crowns you with love and compassion. R.
His wrath will come to an end; he will not be angry for ever. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults. R.
For as the heavens are high above the earth so strong is his love for those who fear him. As
far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our sins. R.
Second Reading: Romans 14:7-9
Whether alive or dead, we belong to the Lord. The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. This explains why Christ both died and came to life, it was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
I tell you that you forgive not seven times but seventy times seven.
Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.
‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time,” he said, “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me,” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would
not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
How about going back to the First Reading and see if the link between it and the Gospel becomes more evident to you.
REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS::::::: POINTS TO PONDER ‘Lord, what are you saying to me through your
Holy Word today?’
1. The Book of Sirach was also known as the ‘Church Book’ as it was used to instruct new candidates for Baptism with all its lessons of wisdom for living. Today, forgiveness is the theme. Are you ‘hugging tightly’ any anger or resentment? What behaviour is this causing in your life?
2. Breaking the chain of hurt, unforgiveness, and violence is extremely difficult. Can you ‘remember the Most High’s covenant’ (the forgiveness of our sins on the cross) and knowing our faults have been overlooked… ‘overlook faults’?
3. Today is the final Sunday this year we hear from St Paul’s letter to the Romans. Tensions existed between Jews who kept all their ‘laws’ and customs faithfully, and Gentiles who did not feel the obligation of the ‘laws’ and ‘customs’ of the Jews. Do you identify with a particular ‘group’ within the Church? Do you create barriers and ill feeling toward ‘others’ not in ‘your group’? Paul reminds us we are not individuals or ‘groups’ but one. How could you be an agent of ‘unity’?
4. Encouraged from the previous Gospel episode of forgiveness, Peter asks Jesus precisely how generous does one have to be toward someone who has sinned. Rabbi’s taught three times. Peter suggests a large and generous amount using the perfect number 7. Jesus pronounces an uncountable amount: 77 (double perfection!). Justice and its strict legal prescription is to be overwhelmed by Mercy and God’s love. Do you have a struggle with forgiveness? Acceptance of or Giving of? Consider what you need to do.
5. 10,000 talents is very descriptive. 10,000 is the largest number in Jewish Arithmetic. And the word ‘talent’ is a Greek word for a weight of metal. It is the largest unit of measurement. 10,000 talents is equal to our phrase ‘billions of dollars’. It is an unrepayable debt. Strikingly it is ‘forgiven’. This same servant then refuses to ‘forgive’ someone owing him $100. He has been unmoved by the forgiveness offered him. Have you allowed God’s forgiveness on the cross to profoundly change you? How could you express your acceptance of God’s incredible forgiveness?
6. A parable has within it the seed of subversion of the currently established patterns of operating. The King (God) in the parable offers forgiveness, and yet the full meaning of the parable indicates this forgiveness is conditional. The receiver is expected in turn to forgive. This is dangerous and unexpected. God could change and take back an earlier decision? What will happen to me? What does living forgiveness involve for me?
7. What is one action that you will do to ‘live-the-word’ this week?
Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases
Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me?
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants.
Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?
I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.
Forgive your neighbour’s faults and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.
The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger and rich in compassion.
Alive or dead we belong to the Lord.
To the point
The servant who had been forgiven by the master fails in two ways: not only does he fail to deal compassionately with his fellow servant, but in so doing he betrays his master’s standard of conduct.
Similarly, life in the Church demands that we forgive not only because it is the compassionate thing to do but because this is how God acts and expects us to act.
Connecting the Gospel
To Matthew’s context
This gospel selection is taken from Matthew’s most distinctive sermon (18:1-35), that on the internal life of the Christian community, the Church.
To Christian experience
Placing this gospel within the context of Matthew’s sermon on the Church, we need not be scandalised or discouraged that sin is part of the life of the Church. But, so too does this gospel bring home our need both to receive and extend forgiveness.
The Church and forgiveness
Last Sunday’s gospel indicated how the Church should deal with those who refuse to repent. In this Sunday’s gospel the situation is reversed: the sinner (i.e., the one in debt) asks for forgiveness. In such a case Jesus instructs his disciples that they must be quick and unstinting in offering forgiveness.
Peter’s proposal to Jesus sounds magnanimous: he is willing to forgive seven times! But what mentality does that reflect? Would Peter keep track of the ‘brother’ who sins? Does he record the number of sins so that, once the eighth sin is committed, he may seek retribution with impunity? In other words, Peter’s question misunderstands the kind of forgiveness that should characterise the Church.
In the parable that follows, the servant owes the king ‘a huge amount’ (18:24). The Greek reads ‘10,000 talents’ which is far more than merely ‘huge’ – it is beyond reckoning! A talent was the largest denomination of currency; 10,000 is the highest counting number: thus 10,000 talents is the largest of the largest. Rather than take out a calculator, the reader is invited to imagine the unimaginable. The debt, despite the servant’s promise to ‘pay [it] back in full’ (18:26) could never be repaid. Nevertheless, the servant begged for patience (18:26); instead, he got forgiveness (18:27)!
The situation between him and his fellow servant is different in two ways. First, what was owed him was ‘a much smaller amount’ – literally, a hundred days’ wages (18:28). Second, while that is still a large amount for a mere servant, it is a debt that could be paid off in time. The request, identical to his own request to the king – ’be patient with me and I will pay you back’ (18:26, 29) – was reasonable. Thus, the first servant need not have been compassionate (as was the king, 28:27), merely reasonable and patient. Even in this he failed.
In the Church forgiveness isn’t a matter of ‘how many times must I forgive?’ but simply ‘how must I forgive?’ The answer is clear: as God has forgiven me. Forgiveness received is the basis for forgiveness given.
I have posted on the FUNNIES TAB some background information about the Story of the Village called Finuge in County Kerry. A number of people have asked me is it true, is it made up, etc. I have tried to answer under a special TAB in the FUNNIES SECTION.
On Thursday night of this week, I will have posted the realhomilie for this week. In the READINGS TAB I will post a very good Reflection on the story of Adam and Eve. I will take it from the latest Passionist Provincial Office Newsletter.
Also by Thursday night, I will permanently post some information about inspire library, the brain child of Colin Lee.
PS: Thank you for the many emails, reflections and condolances to our Family re the death of our beloved Tara ( Sheltie Collie) this was very much appreciated. Well, as my Mum stated, from a position of deep saddness and a spark of hope, life must go on! So, my Mum suggested that we get a new Dog from the RSPCA at Yagonna. You would not believe what happened; you know the saying that it is a pet that finds you? Well, that’s what happened. Mum and I looked at over 20 Dogs in their pens, and you would not believe that this cute little Tibetan Spaniel introduced herself to Mum! She is 9 years old, and belonged to a lady who was aged 92 and had to go to a Nursing Home, so she gave the Dog to the RSPCA to find a good home. Rosie, found a good home, and Mum has a beautiful companion, trained in all ways that would suit our household. What a beautiful story, eh? Rosie was waiting for 3 weeks for Mum to show up! A real gift from God!