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Father Muench Says...

Forgive us... as we forgive others

Sept. 27, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I want to share with you some of my thoughts as I prepared my homily for last Sunday – that was the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  I hope you remember that in that Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus was challenging the apostles, actually all of us, his disciples, to be recognized as a forgiving people.

Do you remember Jesus’ parable in that Gospel reading?

Jesus carefully tells a story as his teaching on forgiveness. A servant owes the king a “huge” amount and the servant begs the king for compassion.  The king surprisingly forgives him the entire amount that he owes.  That same servant refuses to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a “a much smaller amount.”

The other servants turn him in and he is punished severely.  Remember this is a parable – it didn’t really happen but is Jesus’ story for us; it reflects Jesus’ teaching.

We are called by Our Savior to be a forgiving, loving people.  Jesus came among us, lived with us, taught us, suffered and died for us leading to his Resurrection all to convince us that God loves us so much he forgives our sins. I have hurt others – I know that I am a sinner.  However, Jesus forgives me and challenges me to renew my readiness to live a good Christian life, to bring Jesus to all I meet.

My reprobate friends – and I have many – are not Church goers. They don’t feel worthy; they believe their life is too sinful.  So, I usually remind them of God’s great forgiving love for all sinners. 

In fact, we Church goers are forgiven sinners.  I try to convince my friends that the largest gathering of sinners in town is at the parish Church each Sunday.

This challenge to be a forgiving people is not an easy task.  Many hurts in life are so nasty, just too powerful for us to ever forgive, it seems.  I remember talking with someone who told me she had not talked to a sister in 20 years – quite a grudge.  I wanted to say – I didn’t but I wanted to say – that this grudge made her a narrow, cold hearted, unloving, unloved person.

So, how do we become a forgiving person?  It begins with faith, our faith in our loving God and our response in love for this God’s love.  We want to be like Jesus.  We want to be a good people.  Being ready to forgive does not mean we condone those hurts or grudges.  Rather we want to make ourselves good people.  We want to make our world a better place for Jesus has made us good people through his forgiveness.

Often, forgiveness takes time and prayer.  There are times that we are hurt badly, maybe by being ignored or forgotten or a time someone truly hurts us.  We can recognize how hurts happen – we see them often on movies or TV shows.  I know I wonder how anyone could ever forgive what happened in the show. Could I forgive if it happened to me?

However, you and I have learned of the forgiveness given by a person – like a mother who is ready to forgive after her so is murdered.  I wonder “how could they do it, how could they forgive?”  I know the answer: they are good people who know Jesus and want to be like Jesus.

I remind you of the words we, priests, say during the consecration of the wine at every Mass – “In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in Memory of Me."

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