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CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS: Twenty Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time Homily

September 10, 2011

Twenty Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A)

Citations of

Sir 27,33-28,9:     www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9bog14cn.htm 

Rm 14,7-9:                                www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ak0ran.htm  

Mt 18,21-35:           www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9bara3r.htm 

They brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents’(Mt 18:24)  In the dialogue with Peter, the Apostle, the Lord introduces a new and unimaginable measure of Mercy to the world.  ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy times seven’ (Mt 18:22) Through the simplicity of the parable, the Lord guides the hearers into the highest reality of divine forgiveness.

The Lord indicates that there is a debt, that in some way defines the relationship between man with his Creator : it is a debt of incalculable value, ten thousand talents, which not even millions of ‘generations’ would have been able to repay.   In the Roman economy of the first century, one talent corresponded to approximately six thousand denarii and one denarius was equivalent to one day’s pay for a workman.  Therefore, with these words the Master informs His disciples of two fundamental truths: man owes God a debt and that this debt is insolvent. 

A similar image could certainly offend contemporary sensibility, but in examining it attentively, it is possible to highlight man’s proper dignity. 

Man is in debt to the Lord in at least two ways.  In first place, he is indebted for his existence.  Man was brought to life by God as a gift and, as a natural consequence, is called to respond to his Creator, the debt being considered as a ‘responsibility’

The second debt, which is properly described as such, comes from the abuse that man takes with regard to his liberty.  Rather than using the reality that surrounds him and his own faculties to search, know and praise the Creator, man searches to make himself independent of God and falls into an senseless search to live without God.  In truth, it would be impossible to exist without God, because it is only the dependence on God’s love that continually generates life.   This, man’s second debt to God, is called ‘sin’.

Whilst the first link, that of the dependence of creation, doesn’t rightly constitute a debt, but rather a gift which, by its very nature implies a responsibility, the second link, sin, has a distorting effect on the on our dependence on God.  It is, however, impossible to indemnify that debt as it is also impossible to indemnify the significance of life instead of recognising it and embracing it in He who created us for Himself.

The only possible escape from such an situation, according to that parable, is ‘ruin’, the loss of one’s own life, in addition to that which he possessed.  ‘Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.’ (Mt 18:25)

At this stage in the parable something absolutely new and unexpected happens when the servant, who is justly condemned, falls at the feet of his master and, under the illusion of being able to redeem himself, requests and extension in the time to repay the debt.  The master feels compassion towards the servant, yielding to his request  and goes even further by cancelling the whole of the debt.  The just interests of the master are, by his mercy, sacrificed for the servant and so the master pays the debt in person.

The relationship between them is transformed and the condemnation of the master constitutes the fount of a new life for the servant and his family.  From this gesture of mercy, the master and the servant are more closely linked.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to have a living knowledge of the gift of mercy that we have received by our Baptism, when Christ annulled the price of our debt nailed to the cross (cfr Col 2:14) and immersed us in His own divine life.  With Holy Mary, we adore the Lord Jesus present, working and  sustaining us before the memory of His Death and Resurrection in the Most Holy Eucharist.  From Him we welcome our filial dignity, the certainty of God’s love and that infinite Mercy that heals every wound in our hearts like a luminous stream in our life’s journey.

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