THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost
17 October 2021
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The Sunday Sermon Archive
Today, our Holy Mother, the Church, presents us with another of Jesus' parables. In today's parable, we learn that we should forgive as we have been forgiven. Our offenses against God are much greater than our neighbor's offenses against us. The debt that God forgives us is always much greater than any debt that we may forgive our neighbors.
Saint John Chrysostom says: "There is as great a distance between sins committed against man and sins committed against God as there is between ten thousand talents and a hundred pence. That it is greater, and much greater, is evident from the difference between the persons offended and from our repeated offenses. For while other men watch us, we desist and are slow to sin; but though God sees all all the day we do and speak evil without a thought. And not by this only are our sins against God seen to be greater, but also from the favors we enjoy from Him. For He made us and made all things because of us. He breathed into us a rational soul. He sent us His Son and opened heaven to us and made us His children. Should we, therefore, die each day for Him, could we repay Him what we owe Him? Far from it; but this again would return to our profit. Instead we offend Him in His laws."
The love of God is the greatest commandment, and the love of our neighbor is second. In a way, it is one and the same as the first commandment. If we truly love God, then we must, of necessity, love all that He loves. He loves all of His creation; therefore, we must love what He loves if we love Him. He made us all in His Image and Likeness. We are all called upon by Him to enjoy eternity with Him in Heaven the king as well as the beggar.
Because God loves us, He readily forgives us any and all our offenses against Him. To appropriately reciprocate this love, we must imitate Him and readily forgive any and all transgressions against ourselves.
The only one that is without sin is God; the rest of us (the Blessed Virgin Mary excluded) are all sinners and in need of forgiveness. If God, Who is without sin, can bend so low as to forgive us, then we who are great sinners and already bent low in vice must eagerly forgive each other.
In loving our neighbors, it is God Whom we love. It is His Image and Likeness that we love in them. All that is good in them and lovable is from God. We need to train ourselves to see the reflection of God in each other and focus our love upon that.
The sin or evil that we observe in others is not what is lovable, and this is not from God. This we must hate, but the sinner we must love. There is an old saying that we should not throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater. We must be careful not to throw out the person with his sins. Yes, the sins need to be cast out, but we must do all we can to assure that the person is cleansed and restored to God's Image and Likeness.
As long as this mortal life exists, we must not lose hope. At any moment, God can forgive the greatest sinner and restore him to spiritual life. All things are possible with God. Likewise, at any moment, one who has been forgiven much may find himself lost once again. Therefore, we must always remain humble and grateful for the graces of forgiveness that we have received. In the measure that we have been forgiven, we must therefore strive to forgive.
When our neighbor offends us, it is easy to remain calm and gentle if the remembrance of God's forgiveness is before our mind. The slight offense against us is nothing compared to the wrongs we have committed against God. If God loves us despite our evil ways, we can undoubtedly love our neighbor despite his sinful ways.
We are all sinners, and when it comes to strict justice, none of us have a leg to stand on. We are all in need of God's mercy and forgiveness. He has made it very clear that we will receive His mercy and forgiveness to the extent that we have mercy and forgiveness with each other. This is precisely what Jesus has taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Perhaps we should pause each time we make this prayer and think of what we are asking of God. This is well and good as long as we actually do lovingly forgive our neighbors from our hearts. However, if we are holding onto any ill-will, anger, or hatred of our neighbor, we are, in effect, asking God to hold onto ill-will, anger, or hatred towards ourselves.
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