24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: 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.

Second reading: 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.

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.”

In other words

by F. Patricio de los Reyes, SVD (Holy Name University, Tagbilaran City)

On November 21, 2005, at exactly 10:45 pm, I got out of the Provincial house to close the compound gate to prevent animals from coming in during the night. As I headed to the gate, already in my pajamas, an African man appeared suddenly behind me, and as I turned around, he, without a word, hit my head with an instrument that I thought to be an iron tube. I was told later when I woke up from coma that it was a machete. He must have intended to kill me because he was really hitting my head non-stop. I had seven fractures on my skull, five blood clots in my brain, a shattered left elbow, a dislocated left arm, and an almost severed forefinger on my right hand. I was out of the hospital before Christmas. My fast recovery was an amazing miracle according to the doctors who told me that actually I needed to be in the hospital for five months to heal and recover.

I know I am not worthy of the grace, but the Good Lord has extended my life. He has been compassionate toward me. God made me realize his great love for me, and I felt his love deeply when I was in a coma. I felt I was forgiven fully. God gave me peace of mind and heart. He healed me and gave me back my earthly life. I reckon God would have no use of me dead. So, he let me live again so that I may still use my life for better things.

I believe God wants me to have greater respect for humanity and all creation. As I was recovering, God filled my soul with peace and understanding of humanity and gave me the strength and courage to face more challenges. God gave me the grace to forgive the man. Forgiveness became easy. My recovery was fast because of God’s gifts of peace, love, and forgiveness. I am loved, forgiven, healed, and brought back to life by God, despite myself and God demands that I do the same.

I must love God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength. I must love my neighbor as I love myself. I must forgive those who I think have wronged me, not seven times but seventy-seven times. I must forgive no matter how gravely I am hurt. I must forgive no matter how deep the pain is, how deeply I am betrayed, how I have been disregarded and disrespected, no matter how I am insulted or persecuted. I must bring peace, joy, consolation, healing, and life for no other reason except that I am loved, forgiven, healed, and gifted with new life by God.

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