September 17, 2017 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Deacon Steve Whiteman

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 17, 2017

Reading 1 SIR 27:30—28:7

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

Reading 2 ROM 14:7-9

Alleluia JN 13:34

  1. 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

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Let it go!
I try not to watch TV commercials but recently I have enjoyed the ones for a cell phone app. called LET GO. In my favorite LET GO commercial a man and woman are doing a tandem parachute jump. As they fall through the air the woman is randomly holding onto a sewing machine. The man asks if she would consider letting go of the sewing machine so she can deploy the parachute. He offers to sell the sewing machine on the LET GO cell phone app and miraculously someone buys it just in time for them to pull the rip cord.

The commercial is pretty silly but came to mind when I saw our first reading from Sirach. This reading goes well with the Gospel parable on forgiveness and really focuses on people that hold onto a grudge. The words are very powerful:

  • Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.
  • The vengeful…remembers…sins in detail
  • They nourish anger, cherish wrath and refuse mercy.

These words may remind us of someone we know or how we have been tempted to carry a grudge. I know I have. The devil knows how harmful a grudge is to our spiritual life and he will do whatever he can to help us hold onto it.

So why is holding a grudge bad for us and letting it go so much better?

As it turns out, forgiving others is a critical part in our own forgiveness. When we say the Lord’s prayer we ask God to “forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The first reading tells us to “Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”

Medical studies have shown that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who can’t let go. A study at the University of Wisconsin found the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a wide range of illnesses.

In addition, letting go of a grudge and forgiving others sets a great example. One of the best ways we can evangelize and spread that message is by living it in our own life. We can do this by turning the other cheek and overlooking the faults of others. Driving in city traffic is a great opportunity to practice this. Can we say a prayer for the person who cut us off instead of giving into the temptation of road rage?

So what makes it so hard to let go of that grudge and be forgiving?

In my own experience I have found that pride can make it difficult to be forgiving.Pride is often brought on by feelings of insecurity and can make us judgmental of other people. It’s tempting to look down on others and be judgmental of them to make ourselves feel better. This viscous cycle makes it very difficult to be forgiving and let go of a grudge. The best way to break this cycle is to recognize when it is happening try to avoid situations that keep it going.

Another barrier to forgiveness is a concern about what other people think. It’s natural to think that forgiving someone will be seen as a sign of weakness. Showing weakness may invite others to take advantage of us. This logic is a little out of place in our day but we can be very creative when we want to justify our behavior. Fortunately what other people think is not nearly as important as what God thinks.

  • So how do we become more forgiving?
  • How can we let go of our grudges more easily?

When I struggle to forgive someone I do my best to pray for them. It’s never easy but praying for someone else can be very effective for the person doing the praying. The act of folding our hands in prayer can help us let go of any grudge we are holding onto.

The best way to learn more about forgiveness is to experience it first-hand. As Catholics we have been given an incredible gift. We have the chance to experience forgiveness in a deep and meaningful way thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

If you would like to hear how these topics and others play an important part in your marriage, I have an invitation for you. There will be a marriage workshop on Saturday, October 14th at St. Gabriel Parish in Reinbeck, IA from 9am to 4pm. The topic is: Essential Elements for a Strong Catholic Marriage. The workshop is put on by the Arch-Diocesan Family Life Office and the Deacon Marriage Task Force.  Greg and Julie Alexander are the presenters. Christy and I heard about their story several years ago and it had a huge impact on our marriage and faith life.

There are flyers in the back of church and there will be information in the bulletin next week. You need to register by October 6th.

And finally we come back to the TV commercial for the LET GO cell phone app. If we find ourselves holding a grudge we need to LET GO before it’s too late. LET GO and let God be in charge of judgement and forgiveness. Praise the LORD for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.

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