Home Mission Sunday DSP for our loved ones close to home & at home.. particularly for those who, for a reason or for no reason, no longer join us here, but are nevertheless practising Catholics at home..living out the gospel in a different way to you & me but still close to God..indeed closer to God than some of us.. a moment to call to mind the difficulties in home life which cause wounds & widen divisions, realising the truth in the saying “ it is the people we love most who are the people we hurt most..”
“..forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you..” ; Lord have mercy “..if he nurses anger can he then demand compassion from the Lord?” ;Christ have mercy “..if he cherishes resentment, who will forgive him his sins?” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..remember Matthew who wrote our gospel passage was originally a tax collector..a man well skilled at numeracy & hence context for Peters mathematical enquiry..how often?..7 times? a lot of times? & Jesus heightens stakes 77 times..others translate it as 70x7..the challenge is loud & clear..every time, no matter how many times, forgive..last Sunday morning Oscar Evans our server & I were having man talk in Sacristy before Mass..asked him what book he was reading at moment..”Horrid Henry” so I asked what made Henry horrid?..his younger brother he told me Perfect Peter..so I enquired is there a happy ending?..”no” he said in a matter of fact way “they don’t stop being mean to each other” “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me?” & how many of us here & now can’t forgive?..perhaps not holding a grudge like Horrid Henry but like Perfect Peter carrying a wound..the scar evidence of an allegedly unprovoked unmerited attack which left us dazed reeling & suffering consequences..self determined never to make same mistake again, now perfect & perfectly alone..the forgiven-then-unforgiving servant is all too familiar..you & I..overwhelming indebted to an ever forgiving Father who has forgiven us endless times for our mistakes our deliberate misuse of gift of free will which has caused havoc, life changing injuries to others, often our closest loved ones, who unself-protectively lay themselves open & lovingly to prospect of yet another episode of selfishness or self perfection which causes serious damage to loving interpersonal relationships..& as often as we return, humbly remorsefully seeking a prodigal son re-entry into relationship with Christ, he greets us with greatest hug & softest eye contact we could ever imagine “Jesus looked steadily at him & loved him”..its almost worth falling into sin to get such a welcome home..again..again & again..& he never counts, its always genuinely a first time, so special is our special relationship..& for the Matthews among us it is too good to believe..we’ve been conditioned to count the 10 commandments, 9 First Fridays, 5decades of Rosary, 40days Lent, 24th SunYr A today & EP 3..numeracy experts & Jesus smiles & his look says everything..home redeemed & a feastday indeed..so so different from Matthews misunderstanding of divine relationship with each of us..God isn’t a paymaster or judge..the one who weighs our misdeeds & condemns us..Herbert McCabe Dominican monk “the great characteristic of sinners is that they do not know they are sinners..they refuse to accept & believe that they are sinners. On the contrary, they’ve found all the ways of justifying & excusing themselves. The whole conversation in hell consists of the damned telling each other just how it’s all a terrible mistake & they shouldn’t be there at all because they are righteous & virtuous. The desperate boredom of this must be the pain of hell, but the thing that constitutes hell is that God can’t be seen ; all that can be seen is this vengeful punitive God who is Satan.” For those of us..us..who find Confession mission impossible listen to this key paragraph “never be deluded into thinking that if you have contrition, if you are sorry for your sins, God will come & forgive you..that he will be touched by your appeal, change his mind about you & forgive you. Not a bit of it. God never changes his mind about you..he is simply in love with you ..what he does again & again is change your mind about him. That is why you are sorry; that is what your forgiveness is. You are not forgiven because you confess your sin. You confess your sin, recognise for yourself for what you are, because you are forgiven.” By gum..did you notice “again & again” beyond numeracy, indefinite infinite..“in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt..& this is how my heavenly Father will deal with you.” really really?..after what we ‘ve just heard believed & realised, where does it leave poor Matthew with his [& up to now our ] vengeful punitive God?..alongside elder brother, Horrid Henry & Perfect Peter in solitary confinement..a life sentence in self certificated hell..so please drop Maths & take up the unconditional offer of a place in an everlasting relationship with a God who couldn’t love you one jot more if he tried..enjoy the hug & the smile.. [24thSunYrA Mt 18;21-35]