Spiritual readings for Sunday 17th September
11 September 2017 CGI news
Week of 11th September (reference: readings for Sunday 17th September)
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Readings: Rm 14,7-9; Mt 18,21-35
"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord".
The focus of St. Paul's letter to the Romans of this week is that our life belongs only to God. "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's” (verse 8).
What does it mean to belong to the Lord? Obviously, through Baptism, we become children of God and therefore brothers of Christ. If Christ belongs so much to the Father that he gave his life on the Cross for our sake, then, to belong to the Lord, means that we must do the same thing every day, carrying our cross in the small things that we do. We do not master (yet) the decision on our birth or on our death; therefore, our birth or our death do not belong to us. If so, why is it so difficult to make our lives belong to God?
In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus gives us an idea about this difficulty.
Initially, the king shows that he was not attached to things. In fact, wealth was for him only a means of doing good to others. “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him a fortune was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go." (verse 23-27).
How many times we put ourselves in the position of the debtor and, despite our sins and our lack of faith, in the "nick of time", we kneel at the feet of God and beg for his mercy? We hope to receive a miracle from God and God answers with much more than what we ask: He not only gives us more time (as we asked), but He also forgives our debts.
Later, the debtor disappoints the King, because he does not need him any longer, and shows that his wealth belongs to him and not to the King (to whom he had a debt): since he treats a debtor of his as an enemy. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt” (verse 28-30). Actually, all the possessions of the first and the second debtor belonged to the King, because it was the King who gave first. But it seems that we forget this.
For the Jews of the Old Testament, as it still happens today, a debt was a very serious situation. So much so that, for their purification, on the occasion of the Jubilee for example, the Jews used to forgive debts.
Do we take seriously the need to forgive debts (e.g. offences, betrayals and evil actions) of our brothers, before asking God to forgive our own debts and listen to our needs? When we say in the Lord's Prayer "and forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors", are we really doing what we profess?
Only the grace of God can make us like Him, so that our lives, everything we have, belongs to Him and not to us. Only the grace of God can make us detach ourselves from our goods and put them to the service of others! We pray, therefore, that God continually give us this grace.