Epistle: Ephesians 6. 10-17; Gospel: St. Matthew 18. 23-35
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Church, the Body of Christ on earth, is one. Christ prayed that
"they all be one" in his priestly prayer in the Gospel according to St.
Today, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Christ teaches that this
oneness among his faithful is the authentic witness to His Lordship. Such
unity comes about among all the Church's members through forgiveness. Peter
asks the Lord, "How many times must I forgive my neighbor?" A good student
of the Old Testament, he proposes the biblically perfect number seven.
The Lord then reveals what true perfection will be among the men and women
who truly seek the kingdom. They will forgive not seven times, but seventy-times
seven times. They will forgive time and time again, time without numbering,
without counting. Just as the Church of Christ is the reign of peace, so
the kingdom is lacking where there is violence.
Lack of forgiveness is at the root of the abominable murders and warfare
that have afflicted the world from the time of Cain and Abel. We are sickened
by the stories of angry violence, of murder, of beatings, even within families.
Media relentlessly reports parents murdering children, and children murdering
parents. We confront now the horrors of partial-birth abortions, and abortifacient
contraception, where the unborn child is not forgiven for being alive.
Our bishops have asked that we practice the penitential fast from meat
on Fridays in reparation for this particular form of violence.
In so many cases today, the unhappiness and horrors in the world exist
because the key to a peaceful life remains a hidden treasure. As we pray
in the Our Father: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
against us." The forgiveness of the Lord, made possible through his passion,
death and resurrection, and the peace which is its fruit, becomes something
we experience, in a powerful and continuing way, through our practice of
forgiving each other.
The witness of the Church is this forgiving love: "see how they love
one another." The peace of God between neighbors is interconnected with
the peace among men who love God. The Catechism reminds us: "Thus the Lord's
words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end (Jn 13:1) become a
living reality. The parable of the merciless servant, which crowns the
Lord's teaching on ecclesial community, ends with these words: 'So also
my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your
brother from your heart.' (Mt. 18:23-25) 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." (CCC 2843)
We are freed from passion and anger, with which we allow our injuries
to imprison us, by the transforming power of forgiveness. We forgive in
Christ, and in Christ we regain the peace and serenity that were robbed
from us when we failed to forgive.
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we
"meet Christ in the liturgy",
(See also CCC 2843.)
Used with the permission of Fr. Cusick from his website.