Fr. Anit's Homilies

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 10, 2023

My dear friends, we are on the 23rd Sunday in ordinary time and today in the gospel taken from Matthew Chapter 5, we see Jesus speaking about the importance of reconciliation. He says that if we realize that our neighbor has sinned against us, we need to take the initiative and go and talk to that person in private. this also should be seen together with another verse that Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5:23, that when we are on our way to offer a sacrifice and remember that someone has something against us, we need to leave the offering there and go and reconcile with that person and come back and offer the sacrifice. in both these cases one thing we can notice that the fault is apparently with the other person not with us. the first one Jesus says if you remember that your neighbor has sinned against you, secondly your neighbor has something against you. but at the same time, we see in both the cases Jesus is expecting us to take the initiative.

First, he says go and talk to him in private, secondly, he says to leave the offering there and go and reconcile with that person. Sometimes when we keep grudges, we find a justification for that. We say no why should I ask forgiveness, because the other person is at fault. or we say why should I ask forgiveness, if I am upset and angry, I have valid reason for that. however, when we look at what Jesus expects from us, we don’t see such conditions are valid.

In Sirach chapter 28:2 and 3 we see something very similar, here the Lord says forgive the harm done by your neighbor and then your sins will be forgiven. See forgive the harm done by your neighbor, so it’s already taken for granted that harm is done by a neighbor. and then we are asked to forgive that, and then what’s more interesting Sirach 28:3 the very next verses say, does anyone Harbor anger against his neighbor in the heart and expect healing from the Lord, actually the Lord says it’s impossible. Very often we wonder why we do not find progress in our life. We sometimes feel that we are praying a lot, we are doing a lot of Charity, we are trying our best to live a very virtuous life and yet why do we lack a lot of blessings in our life? We need to ask ourselves whether we have the habit of holding back forgiveness? We need to ask ourselves whether we keep grudges against someone in our heart? in the second reading we see saint Paul saying no to owe anything to anyone. and in forgiving the other person whether it is a neighbor or family member life partner brother sister whoever even when the other person is at fault is not an option, but is a command from the Lord when we do not do that, are we not owing something to them? Yes, we owe forgiveness to them, and then when we owe forgiveness to them, Saint Paul says we lack love, because love fulfills all laws.

So, imagine if we say that we are very particular in fulfilling the practices of piety we are very particular about our prayer life and a lot of charitable activities and so on. but then if we hold back forgiveness, if we are keeping grudges inside, then we do not have love. and so all activities that we do however good they are, they end up meaningless. in the first reading taken from The Book of Ezekiel chapter 33, the Lord says I have made you a Watchman for the house of Israel. here the Lord is referring to the importance of correcting one another. However, look at the responsibility of a Watchman of a city. the peaceful life or the peaceful existence of a group of people in a city will very much depend on the commitment and the dedication of the Watchmen. if the Watchman doesn’t do the responsibility well, then people in the city cannot live a peaceful life. so, we see that the Watchmen are accountable for the peaceful existence of the people that they are watching over. We too are actually accountable for the peaceful life of our relatives, our family members, our neighbors and so on.

If We Hold Back grudges, if we are unwilling to forgive others, whatever may be the reason as we said they may be on the wrong side, we may be right and, yet if we are unwilling to forgive, we become responsible for the lack of peace in their life. and then we must be accountable for that before God, because the Lord has set us as Watchmen for other people. We are accountable for them so we see when we are unwilling to reconcile, when we are unwilling to forgive, we lose a lot of blessings and Graces that should have come into our life. or to other people’s life through us. At the same time, we also prevent a lot of blessings and happiness that should come into other people’s lives. let’s look into our life and see if we have people in our life that we need to forgive, if yes let’s take the initiative and reconcile with them may God bless each one of us. Amen.

© Fr. Anit A Jacob MS 2023

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