The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 13 September 2020
Lectionary Readings: Sir 27:30 – 28:7; Ps103:1-4, 9-12. R.v.8; Rom 14:7-9; Mat 18:21-35
Theme: The Word of God- the personal message for you today
There are many ways of interpreting the Word of God. Scripture scholars might show us the meaning of a particular reading by examining both its original context and the meaning of words in the original language. Many of us rely on this knowledge when trying to interact personally with the biblical text and trying to hear God’s message for us. However, a prayerful time of reading, listening and interpreting the Word of God should lead us into one goal only: Living biblically, which ultimately means living like Christ.
There are a few words and phrases which stand out for me from the first reading from Sirach: anger, forgiveness and remembering the covenant of God. “Forgiveness is a complex idea, and its emergence in Jewish sensibility is a drama in five acts, each adding a new dimension to the concept’s richness.” (Sacks p.182) Even from the first pages of the Bible, we learn that human beings have had difficulty remembering and honoring God’s covenant. We witness time and again efforts to strive for justice while struggling with a desire to seek vengeance. “Justice is the impersonal, forgiveness the personal, restoration of moral order. Justice rights wrongs; forgiveness rebuilds broken relationships.” (Sacks, p.187)
The idea of being God-like is strongly reinforced in our response to the readings in the Psalm: “The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger and rich in compassion.”(v.8) This verse itself is a perfect plan for our life of faith in the week ahead. Treating others as we wish to be treated should lead us to undertake simple acts of kindness, motivated by compassionate hearts. This is explained quite clearly in this Sunday’s excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Romans. Belonging to God makes us participants in His death and resurrection. “We need to see that nothing now can undo what Christ has done. The salvation of the world has been achieved and this generation needs to hear that good news.” (Hickey, p.33). This means that our actions towards others have a great impact on them, bringing them life not death, through our attitude towards living by God’s
Finally, the Gospel of this Sunday presents us with a rather intriguing way of thinking about forgiveness. In this parable the man who is forgiven so much debt which he could never repay, goes out and demands from a fellow-servant that he pay back the small amount he owes him immediately. His fellow-servant begs for time to repay him but he refuses to show mercy and has him put into prison. The servant who had been forgiven is reported to his Master for his harshness. His Master then withdraws his mercy and metes out the punishment with which he had threatened him. The lesson to all of us is: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from the heart.” (v.35) Love means forgiving as God forgives – uncountable times.
This Sunday’s readings challenge us by putting before us a radical manner of living: control your anger, stop hating, forgive always, and give yourself and others time. It is up to you and me to spread God’s unconditional love in the days to come by living this way. Are we up to the challenge?
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. What challenges you the most in forgiving others? 2. What actions can you undertake this week to live Biblically?
Bibliography: Sacks, Jonathan The Dignity of Difference (London: 2002); Hickey, B. Living Biblically, (Perth, 2008)
This week’s Sunday Commentary was prepared by
Sr Grace Roclawska csfn, Australia, Bat Kol Alumna 2018