Browsing Homilies

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sir 27:30-28:7 | Ps 103 | Rom 14:7-9 | Mt 18:21-35

Forgiveness is a holy venture. When each of us embarks on such a path, we all change. Letting go of past hurts and unfortunate circumstances and outcomes deepens and strengthens our relationships. Forgiveness is not easy. Such a bond of compassion may take years to grow. However, Jesus offers us love, and love lived out in relationships always requires forgiveness.

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to go deeper into our fragile relationships. You and I are challenged to sort through the hope that, no matter what happens, forgiveness and reconciliation may take root in the hearts of people. Jesus says to us that forgiveness must take place over and over again. There is no limit to the number of times forgiveness must happen when the bond of friendship and family becomes threatened. Unity and justice must be at the heart of our relationships. Seventy-seven times should be understood as an unlimited number of times to overcome the obstacles that get in the way of love and communion among people.

We see clearly the need for forgiveness in our lives and world. We live in the midst of so much tension and derision. The violence of unforgiveness witnessed in political wars or even felt at our family tables impacts our lives, our well-being, and the common good. A lack of peace affects our hearts, our bodies, and our spirits. Unforgiveness becomes a cancer that can destroy not only relationships but also our own health and perspectives on life. Unforgiveness may even turn to war and disruption. The lack of forgiveness violates our souls and sours our view of life. It may even lead to the poisoning of faith itself. 

In Sirach we hear, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice, then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” In this understanding, we realize our striving for forgiveness and right-relationship is never ending. An infinite number of times, we come back to our posture of love toward God and our neighbor. Over and over again, we search our hearts for the common good and offer a hand of peace toward our neighbor, toward God, and toward our own growth. And at the intersection of all relationships, there is a need to mend our ways and to reflect on our responsibility and reactions when living together in community. Sometimes it’s our fault. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we have hurt others. I’m sure the effects of the pandemic escalated this, but there is such a grave lack of self-awareness today, and a newfound rudeness that is seemingly embraced and accepted.

No matter how others treat us, we always have a choice as to how we respond. For those who know “Ted Lasso,” we need more Ted Lasso responses. All of us have been hurt, betrayed, lied to, made fun of, and treated without consideration—so was Christ; and his response as he was being nailed to the cross: “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.” I don’t think this means we’re doormats, and sometimes it’s necessary to address issues and create healthy boundaries.

But think about it: if your life was asked of you this very day, or if Jesus triumphantly returned in glory tomorrow: what remains bound for you? What haven’t you “loosed?”

No matter how many times we offer a gesture of peace to our neighbors or loved ones, we also know that God is with us. Jesus’ life on earth is the summary of reconciliation and commitment to living a fruitful and just life. Jesus’ role on earth reveals heavenly grace. His passion, death, and resurrection open for us the flood of grace for every human need for wholeness. In Christ Jesus, we find our way to constantly, without question, come back to where we belong: to the love God has for us and for our human relationships.

We begin every Mass by calling to mind our need for such mercy from God. We claim our role in the great journey for reconciliation on earth. This journey is holy and long lasting. We may tire of the request from God to allow love to take root in all our relationships, yet we receive love well beyond the love we are requested to give away. More than seventy-seven times, you and I come before the living God to accept the responsibility we bear for our actions. We come, once again today, to encounter the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, who reveals to us that love is possible, not just one time, but infinitely in the never-ending presence of his love for each one of us.


RSS Feed


Access all blogs

Subscribe to all of our blogs