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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 17.09.2023

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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 17.09.2023

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SIRACH 27: 30 – 28: 7

Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, and the sinful man will possess them. He that takes vengeance will suffer vengeance from the Lord, and he will firmly establish his sins. Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. Does a man harbor anger against another, and yet seek for healing from the Lord? Does he have no mercy towards a man like himself, and yet pray for his own sins? If he himself, being flesh, maintains wrath, will he then seek forgiveness from God? Who will make expiation for his sins? Remember the end of your life, and cease from enmity, remember destruction and death, and be true to the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbour; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook ignorance.

The Word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 103: 1 – 2, 3 – 4, 9 – 10, 11 – 12 (R.) 8.

R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all within me, his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And never forget all his benefits. R/.

It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion. R/.

He will not always find fault;
nor persist in his anger forever.
He does not treat us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our faults. R/.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So strong his mercy for those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far from us does he remove our transgressions. R/.

SECOND READING
“Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
ROMANS 14: 7 – 9

Brethren: None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

The Word of the Lord.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
John 13: 34

Alleluia.
A new commandment I give to you, says the Lord, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.
Alleluia.

GOSPEL
“I do not say to you that you forgive seven times but seventy times seven.”
MATTHEW 18: 21 – 35

At that time: Peter came up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do to you seven times but seventy times seven. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven maybe compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. “But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you. ’He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. “When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: The Torment of Unforgiveness
September 17, 2023

“‘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.” (Matthew 18:32–35)

Love, kindness, gentleness, mercy…these and many like qualities are easy to think about. They inspire us to be holy by growing in virtue. But sometimes we need more. Sometimes pondering the beauty of the virtues and fruits of the Spirit do not suffice to help us embrace a life of holiness. This is one of the reasons for our parable today.

The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola present us with a structure by which a spiritual director may lead a retreatant through a thirty day private retreat. Ignatius outlines thirty days worth of meditations. Interestingly, Ignatius does not begin by inviting a person to ponder the beautiful virtues to which they are called. Instead, for the first week, he has the retreatant ponder the horror of sin and the devastating effects that sin has upon a soul. By doing this, the person’s eyes are more fully opened to their own sin so that, in the subsequent three weeks, they will be more properly disposed to reflect upon the inspiring life of Christ and His many virtues.

In a sense, our Gospel today is an ideal Gospel to ponder during that first week of an Ignatian retreat. And for that reason, it is an ideal Gospel to ponder anytime we want to get our spiritual lives in order. It is very easy to become complacent in our Christian walk. It is easy to become lukewarm in our prayer and even in our moral life. If that is you to any degree, then this Gospel is worth your careful and thorough attention.

The sin that Jesus addresses in this passage is the sin of unforgiveness. It clearly depicts the wrath of God that will be inflicted upon those who refuse to forgive others. The “wicked servant” to whom this is addressed was a man who was forgiven a “huge amount” by God. This is all of us. Every one of us has been forgiven by God an amount that cost Jesus His very life. The consequence of our sins was the death of the Son of God. Each of us deserves the penalty of death. But death has now been transformed into the very means of new life through the forgiveness of sins. And if we want to receive the forgiveness of sins and the new life that awaits us, we must fully share in God’s forgiveness. Not only must we receive His forgiveness, we must also forgive those who have sinned against us. Completely. Totally. Without reserve.

In this parable, the wicked servant failed to forgive his servant’s small debt. In fact, every sin committed against us, no matter how grave in the eyes of God, is a small debt compared to the debt we owe God. For that reason, we must never hesitate to forgive. Never. If this is difficult, and if reflecting upon God’s mercy, kindness, compassion and love do not compel you to completely forgive everyone to the fullest extent, then spend time with this parable. “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?” These are words directed at us when we fail to forgive completely from the depths of our hearts. They are merciful words from Jesus to help us wake up to what we need to do.

In a commentary on this passage from St. Thomas Aquinas, the “torturers” spoken of, to whom we will be handed over if we do not forgive, are the demons. They will torment us when we lack forgiveness toward others. The torture, for now, will come in the form of obsessing over our wounds, dwelling upon thoughts of revenge, holding grudges, and lacking interior peace. This is the work of the demons, and they will torment us this way until we forgive.

Reflect, today, upon the absolute requirement of the Christian life to forgive. Mercy can seem unfair. From the perspective of strict justice, it is. But from the perspective of freedom and the virtues of Heaven, mercy makes perfect sense. Do not hesitate to forgive, for if you can do so from the bottom of your heart, God will lavish upon you the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven.

PRAYER:
Most merciful Lord, You have forgiven me a huge debt. The cost of my sin was Your death on the Cross. Please fill my heart with such gratitude for this gift that I, in turn, offer the same depth of mercy to others. May I never waver in this depth of mercy so that I am freed from the torments that come from unforgiveness. Jesus, I trust in You.

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