Father Meade's Homily Notes
Weekend of September 13, 2020
Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Scripture for this weekend:
Sirach 27:33-28:9 - The impassioned plea from a writer who seems to know from personal experience that ill-will toward another is fatal for a God-centered life. Resentment and grudges are the polar opposites of God's own behaviors toward and expectations about us.
Psalm 103:1-12 - An incredible celebration of the psalmist's experience of God's complete forgiveness of that sinner's debt. It is an experience of healing, rescue, dignity, and complete security!
Romans 14:7-9 - The life and death of each of us has its influences on people, some of whom we do not know, but who will hear stories about how we lived our life. The Lord of the living and the dead will be working through all time to give meaning to our activities well beyond our personal control over them.
Matthew 18:21-35 - A parable which may be getting at the notion that a person's experience of forgiveness from God ought to be transforming us into having a more merciful stance toward people who do us wrong.
This is not your pastor's favorite Gospel passage because it contains a lie, or at least a misunderstanding. The debtor of a huge balance did not ask for forgiveness . . . he asked for time. With more time he would be able to satisfy his obligations.
All of us think like that when we say, "I will make it up to you," or other expressions which argue that, given enough time, we can make things right.
Your pastor used to carry a card in his pocket which asked, "Why is there never enough time to do something right the first time, but always time to do it over later?" When it comes right down to it, time is the most precious commodity over which we have no control. Perhaps it is a perilous postponement of facing up to our character.
When you take time to do something, or to not do something, you are making a decision about what is most important to you. Something was more pressing, though you know somebody is more important.
Life in the body means that we only can do one thing at a time, and we do not always have the resources to live as we would have preferred to do so. Still, we expect people to wait until it is convenient for us to do something. We do not know how much time either you or I have, on the one hand, or, on the other, how much time someone else has to stay as he or she is, the person who really may be depending on us.
The master, however, cut to the chase and answered with the question that ought to have been asked: "Please, could you forgive me?" Still, our time-requesting suitor was confronted with incredible loan forgiveness. Ten thousand talents might have been the entire revenue of the Roman Empire for a year, as Palestine was only assessed 200 talents in taxes.
The man who received so much ought to have felt that he was given an entirely new lease on life. He did not sit long enough with this turn of events to absorb what happened to him, as well as wonder how he ought to live his new life.
The spiritual challenge is to recognize that each one of us needed nothing less than Jesus to die in your place or in my place. Being a debtor under the cross is part of who I am. But, I have been left to live among unpleasant, unjust, and even dangerous people.
The size of their evil may well be large; the size of God's mercy toward me is greater. Am I a part of God's mercy toward other people who cannot yet appreciate my efforts to allow God to shine through something that looks like my merciful attempts? Such things are really God's use of me to work out his purposes.
His will includes slowness to anger, revenge, and final judgment until mercy has a chance to transform that sinner, someone in need of mercy as much as I am.