Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 15, 2019 – Year C
Readings: Ex 32:7-11, 13-14 / Ps 51 / 1 Tm 1:12-17 / Lk 15:1-32
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
A story is told about a teenager who, after Sunday morning Mass, went to his pastor for advice. He said, “Father, I left home and did something that will make my dad furious when he finds out. What should I do?” The pastor replied, “Son, I have known your dad for many years. He is a good and holy man. Go home, tell him your sins, ask for forgiveness, and he will surely forgive you and treat you like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel.”
Sometime later the boy reported to his pastor. “Well, I told Dad about what I did.” The priest was so happy to hear the good news, and asked, “Well, did he kill the fatted calf for you?” The boy answered, “No, but he almost killed the Prodigal Son!”
Human as we are, insofar as forgiveness is concerned, we are all works in progress, but what is important is that we try. We have just heard from Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, what many scripture scholars referred to as the “Lost and Found Department of the New Testament.” It tells us the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, which is more properly called The Prodigal Son.
All these parables tell us the good news that we have a God who is merciful and kind. He is a loving father who will look for us when we are lost and He rejoices when we are found. He forgives and gives us the chance to have a fresh start. But He is also asking us to do the same to others. In an earlier chapter of this Gospel of Luke, Jesus said, “Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
Later in this Mass, before we receive Our Lord’s body, soul, and blood in the Holy Eucharist, we will once again pray the prayer that the Lord Jesus himself taught us, part of which says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Saint Luke’s version says, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Being forgiving and merciful is an important part of our identity as Christians. No, it is not easy to forgive, but it is more difficult not to. The only reason that some people cannot forgive is because of anger, and we all know that harboring anger and resentment is like drinking a poison, hoping that the other person will die. We don’t have to be told that this is definitely a sin.
In Chapter 4 of his letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul said, “Do not go to sleep angry. Don’t leave room for the devil.” Let us ask Our Lord to always give us the grace to be merciful, as He is merciful, and to be forgiving as He has forgiven us.