September 13: 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Sirach 27:30-28:7; Psalm 102; 2.
Romans 14:7-9; Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35.
These biblical texts treat of a certain regard for our lives as people who sin and have need of the Lord’s mercy, forgiveness and compassion.
Sirach introduces the topic by looking realistically at the way we act towards one another, and the leniency with which we should forgive those who have failed to be faithful to the Lord. The recurring word “remember” is his way of asking us to adjust our response to others’ failings. To recall the tenets of our faith is to be mindful of God Most High, who has dealt mercifully with his people. And in the context of traditional teaching remembered, we find good reason for dealing compassionately with those whose faults trigger negative feelings. How we relate to our neighbour is, therefore, an indication of our genuine commitment to everything the Lord has commanded.
At the centre of today’s second reading is Christ the Lord. Its verses drive home the point that our lives in community must be grounded in Christ’s life and death. This simple, yet profound, message calls us to reflect prayerfully on the great graces Christ willingly pours forth upon us.
Peter’s question in Matthew is reason enough for Jesus to tell a lengthy parable that contrasts a master and his servant. It is the former who shows generosity of spirit and compassion, while the latter, in his turn, is mean-spirited and exacting. The extreme contrast between these two teaches a sublime lesson about forgiveness, especially with respect to the Lord’s heavenly Father. Knowing that we must imitate divine mercy and compassion means that we are duty-bound to nurture a generous, gracious heart for every occasion.
The life we are called to lead is made vitally relevant for us because of the boundless compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.