My brothers and sisters,1
Today our hearts and thoughts are this morning with all those suffering the effects of the wildfires all around us here in Los Angeles, and really throughout California and many states right now in the West.
Let’s pray for them in a special way in this difficult situation.
This has been a troubling year, for all of us, so many people suffering from the pandemic, the fires, the uncertainty in our economy and public life.
Our faith is being tested, my brothers and sisters. And we are all asking ourselves: where do we place our trust? What do we value, what is important in our lives?
So, we once again today, we come to the holy altar. Here and nowhere else we can find meaning and peace, especially as we come to the celebration of the Eucharist. Here we find meaning and peace in the Risen Christ! Because in him is revealed the beautiful plan of God, his merciful love for creation, for every one of us.
Our life is a gift, our faith is a gift. But with God’s grace and gifts also come responsibility, a beautiful duty to give to be merciful to others as our heavenly Father is merciful to us.
And this is the message today in our readings from Sacred Scripture.
The servant in the Gospel today owes the King “a huge amount.” That’s what we just heard.
This is why the Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a King who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him,
he owed him a huge amount
So first of all I was thinking, my dear brothers and sisters, that we should reflect on how, in a sense, we are like that person. Because we owe God everything. He has given us so many graces, the gift of life, the people in our lives, so many opportunities and talents.
We can never repay the kindness that God has shown to us. But like that servant in the parable, we want to. We have our weakness, our shortcomings, our sins. But we love God and we want to purify our hearts, We want to be more loving, we want to be more generous with the gifts and talents that our Master entrusts to us.
God knows this. He knows our hearts, and like that Master in the parable, our Father looks upon us with deep love. Those amazing words today from Jesus:
Moved with compassion the Master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
This is our story, my dear brothers and sisters. Your story and mine. This is the beautiful mystery of God’s love. Our Psalm today tells us his kindness is higher than the heavens, as far as the east is from the west.
The Lord is kind and merciful
slow to anger and rich in compassion
There is no answer to why he loves us so much. He just does! He loves us with an infinite love. And he loves us personally. So much so that he sends his Son to die on the Cross for you and for me.
Let’s reflect on that this morning, God’s love for each one of us.
Then St. Paul says today in the second reading:
None of us lives for oneself
and no one dies for oneself,
for if we live, we live for the Lord
and if we die, we die for the Lord
For this is why Christ died and came to life.
Jesus dies and rises — so that you and I can live. Not for ourselves any more. Now we have to live for him, for the living God who loves us and gives his life for us.
And this love, this compassion that Jesus shows to each one of us — this must define our lives as Catholics.
Being Catholic means living as a new creation, as new men and new women.
So our faith, when we think of that extraordinary love of God for each one of us, our faith has to change us. We need to live differently, act differently, talk differently, think differently.
And this is the lesson in today’s parable. The Master shows him such great compassion, but unfortunately it doesn’t change his heart. His fellow servant begs for mercy, just as he had begged for mercy. And yet the servant who was forgiven, he refuses to forgive. Instead he punishes his fellow servant.
So my brothers and sisters, we have to live as people who have been forgiven. Who have been touched by the love and mercy of God.
At the same time, we are called to forgive one another from the heart. Not just one time. But every time. Not seven times but seventy-seven times.
And yes, our Lord’s lesson for us today is demanding, it’s challenging. But I think we need to hear it especially in this moment. We need to hear it in our own lives and we need to learn this lesson in our society — we need more love, more understanding, more patience with one another.
To forgive doesn’t mean that we should overlook or tolerate injustice. But it does means that we can’t give in to vengeance, or violence. We cannot hate the people who hurt us or disagree with us or hold different opinions than we do.
As Catholics we are called to change our society through love and compassion. We need to be examples to our neighbors, to our brothers and sisters.
God loves us so much — he’s asking us to love people in the same way.
So let’s ask for that grace today in the celebration of the Eucharist. The grace to root out the angers and resentments in our hearts; the strength to love our enemies, even when it’s hard.
It’s interesting because this week, we celebrate two important moments in the life of the Church. Tomorrow, Monday is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross — Jesus gave his life for you and for me, in love.
And on Tuesday, we remember we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Sorrows, Mary our Blessed Mother who suffered alongside Jesus at the foot of the Cross.
So in this moment, when there is so much confusion and pain in our world and in our society, let us try to enter more deeply into the mystery our Lord’s love for us, which we see in his sacrifice on the Cross.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother to wipe away every tear, so that we can know the mercy that has been shown to us. And may she help us to forgive others as we have been forgiven and to build a society of compassion and mercy.
1. Readings: Sir 27:30-28:7; Ps. 103:1-4, 9-12; Rom. 14:7-9; Matt. 18:21-35.