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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 17, 2017


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By Deacon Jeff Mevissen

This passage from Matthew draws us into the story because the unforgiving debtor is someone we love to hate.  We want to jump from our pew and scream at the man, “You were forgiven a huge debt by your master – and could you not have extended that same mercy to your fellow servant who owed a fraction of your debt?  How selfish – what a loser!”  Then, to our horror, we realize we are that unforgiving debtor when we receive God’s mercy but fail to extend mercy to others.   We feel convicted and the need for repentance.  We are renewed in mind and heart and see a new way to relate to others.

 

In our personal lives we will be happier if we can let go of resentment.  I spend much time in the prison of resentment and the strange thing is I am holding the key the whole time.  The key is pardon but it is difficult to use that key when I am nursing a grudge.  And when I wait for someone to apologize, I am am handing my key to another and losing my freedom to leave my prison of resentment. 

 

God very much wants us to be free and happy – that is why in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray,”And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  During the Year of Mercy, Bishop Guglielmone wore a chasuble that said, “Merciful Like the Father.”  If we imitate our Father in heaven then we are merciful.  It is ironic that Adam and Eve strove to be like God by grasping for the fruit when the true way to be like God is to be merciful.

 

In our public life we have become divided and polarized; there is little civility and cooperation.  It seems it is more important to win and argument than to maintain a friendship.  A Nigerian priest interviewed in the September issue of US Catholic said that in his native tongue, there are no words for liberal or conservative.  It is as if being a member of the community is more important than the views one holds.  We who think we live in an advanced culture could learn much from tribal people.

 

I remember when my Dad was battling cancer, he was given estrogen, a female hormone, because his cancer fed on testosterone.  Dad became more gentle and patient version of himself.  Does it really take hormone therapy for us to be become gentle and patient?  I hope not – I hope we can turn to the Holy Spirit to fill us with love, peace, patience, kindness and all the other fruits of the Spirit.

 

My dear brothers and sisters – the following prayer is for the grace to be merciful as the Father is:

            Oh Lord! transform me in Your mercy to be a living reflection of You.
            Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, that I may never presume or judge according to appearances, but seek beauty in the soul of my neighbor and come to help him.
            Help me, O Lord, to make my ears merciful, so that I may take into account the needs of my neighbor and not be indifferent to their sorrows and pain.
            Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, that I may never speak negatively of my neighbor, that I may have a word of consolation and forgiveness for all.
            Help me, O Lord, that my hand may be merciful and full of good works, that I may know how to do good for my neighbor and to carry on the most difficult and painful tasks.
            Help me, O Lord, to make my feet merciful, so that I may always hasten to help my neighbor, mastering my own fatigue and discouragement. I truly rest in the service of my neighbor.
            Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful, that I may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will not refuse my heart; I will be sincere even with those of whom I would abuse my goodness. And I myself will be enveloped in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own sufferings with courage. May your mercy, O Lord, dwell in me.  Amen.