September 13, 2020 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Andy Upah

Reading 1  SIR 27:30—28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

Responsorial Psalm

R. (8) The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Reading 2   ROM 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
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;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel    MT 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?” 
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. 
That 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 who owed him a huge amount. 
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt. 
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan. 
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount. 
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused. 
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt. 
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair. 
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! 
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. 
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt. 
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Homily for Nativity on the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 9/13/2020 

SIR 27:30-28:7; PS 103; ROM 14:7-9; MT 18:21-35

Today’s readings focus on forgiveness.  You are most likely aware that we have had a lot of weddings this summer, and when I preach a wedding, if the readings lend themselves to it, often I will bring up the importance of forgiveness in a marriage.

Forgiveness is essential to a marriage, but really, forgiveness is essential to any relationship.  

In this Gospel reading, notice the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a King.  Why is that important?  Well, living in the kingdom of heaven is essentially a relationship with a person. 

When we recognize the goodness of Christ the King and what He accomplishes for us in this relationship, when we recognize that he has suffered and died for the forgiveness of our sins, then we can understand, then we can receive his forgiveness and give that forgiveness to others.

That could have been what was going on with this servant in the parable, the servant had grown so accustomed to being in debt, being on the brink of financial ruin, that he believed that what the king had done for him was just too good to be true.

If this servant would have really thought about this new found security, of having all of his debt forgiven, he would have realized that he had ample means to forgive this much smaller debt that was owed to Him.

Think about it, God forgives us of our sins which allows us into heaven, eternal paradise, and we are just responsible for forgiving much smaller offenses, which gets us through the next day on this temporary earth.

So do we realize how much we have been forgiven?  Do we truly believe that we have been forgiven through the love of God, that He loves us that much to forgive all of our offenses?

Unless we can understand that, until we can truly understand how much he loves us and is willing to forgive us when we turn to Him, we will never believe that same capacity to forgive others, we will always respond from our own debt, from our own poor and limited and vindictive tendencies.

We all have these tendencies, we all want to get back at people who have hurt us, to get revenge you know, so we hold onto this unforgiveness. One of my favorite quotes about unforgiveness is, “Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Retaining that anger doesn’t help us.  Often the other person often doesn’t even know we are mad at them, but we take that on, we keep that hurt in our hearts, and we let it affect us.

So God in His love, He does forgive us, and when we appreciate that then we can forgive others and we can take that example from Jesus and show forgiveness on a much smaller scale.

At weddings I like to take that example from Jesus and point to the cross, to Jesus crucified, and say, Jesus forgave, He even forgave from the cross, so we need to look at Him as our model whenever we see that crucifix we need to remember His model of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not easy, but I’d like to offer you some encouragement from this last line in today’s Gospel, which says, “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Well from our heart does not mean from our feelings.  Forgiveness does not mean wounds disappear or that we no longer feel that hurt or it goes away.  Forgiveness means a sincere and simple act of the will with confidence that the love of God is in us.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2843 says “It is there, in fact, "in the depths of the heart," that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.

So, that's a really good encouragement to us, ‘the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming that hurt into intercession.’ 

When we feel hurt, often we retain that and take that out one someone else, but we need to pray for that person, we need to intercede on their behalf, that whatever they are going through, that wound would be healed on their part.

Because usually it is something in their life that they are taking out on us, some wound or injury that they are struggling with, so we have to remember that in order to intercede, to forgive, and allow God to come into that situation and heal that relationship.

And I come back to this first reading from Sirach. “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.”  We can’t continue to live with this wrath and anger, this unforgiveness, we need to recognize that God has forgiven us like this servant, the king has forgiven us and we need to do that for others.

It is not easy, I know it is not easy, but it is necessary, it is the only way forward to live a life of peace and the only way that we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  

That’s why in a couple minutes we will pray the Lord’s Prayer, forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Jesus gave us this prayer because it is so essential to our salvation, so central to our faith, so central to our well being.

So think of that person you need to forgive from your heart, and I encourage you to pray for that person and make an honest effort to forgive them today.