24TH SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME A
Recorded at the Australian Catholic Radio Online (to listen, please click):
Have you ever been betrayed by someone close to you, maybe by your best friend or spouse? Have you missed an opportunity of a lifetime because of somebody’s negligence? Experienced a crime committed against you? Lost a loved one because of someone’s violence or carelessness? Have you ever been insulted and publicly humiliated by a friend? These are just but human experiences that evoke in us anger, rage and fury wanting to vent out through vengeance, vendetta and sometimes by shedding blood for the sake of justice and compensation.
Our gospel this Sunday offers us a rationale for repairing damaged relationships through mercy and forgiveness. Something has to stop the culture of violence and hatred or else we will find ourselves in the vicious cycle of evil that continues to devour relationships making both parties as predators.
When we look at the merciless servant in the parable, most of us dislike him because he is ungrateful, heartless and unjust. Why? Because he should have not acted the way he did! When the king has forgiven all his debts which he could not pay in a lifetime, he ought to forgive his fellow servant who owes him very little. Reading the parable at close range, it tells us about our relationship with God and with our fellowmen. The central character in the parable is God with his unfathomable mercy and the merciless servant is no other than ourselves.
When we sin against God, our offence is infinite and we could never make up an infinite offence simply because we are finite beings. Yet God, just like the king in the parable, cancelled all our debts through the merits of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not only that, as we continue to offend God, he continues to offer us the gift of his mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For the many and countless times that we have asked God’s forgiveness and we were forgiven, he does not say to us “Okay, I will forgive you but only this time” Every time we come back and we say sorry, we don’t hear him say “Why did you do it again?” In fact, after the priest absolves us of our sins, we are like a brand new computer with all the corrupted files of our sins deleted and all the viruses junked to the recycle bin. God does not keep a file of our sins because when he forgives, he also forgets. Maybe some of us will say, “Well, he is God and I am human,” that is why it is not easy for us to forget so we cuddle grudges and other ill feelings for a long time. Some of us have been victims of our own unforgiveness which is even be more fatal than the wrongdoings done to us by others. When we do this, we will not fly like an eagle because deep inside us is a vulture ready to strike anytime against an enemy using the claws of old hurts and wounds. Others have never enjoyed the beauty of life because they opt to live in the dark recesses of hatred in their hearts which manifest in many forms of illnesses, body pains, irritability, etc. Life is too short; here now, gone tomorrow so let’s give life a chance because we only live but once.
It is not a weakness to forgive but something noble which is a triumph of the human spirit in a world of hatred that leads to self-destruct.
Only those who have experienced the mercy of God will be able to forgive first and foremost themselves, then they will reciprocate this goodness to others.