A couple days ago, a parishioner asked me about our current situation in this pandemic. She inquired of me about all the people out there that simply don’t believe in God, or don’t have faith to fall back on. She asked, what about them, what happens to them? My response to her, was that they simply and quickly become angry, even to the point of violence. Sound familiar? Forgiveness is essential to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Our 1st reading is from Sirach, it begins with:
Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.
Revenge and hate have no place in our relationship with God and others. Treating others with mercy gives a peace grounded in divine grace.
Our 2nd reading from Romans challenges us to surrender control of our own bodies and our souls. Do you believe that you belong to the Lord? Think about it! Every time that I’ve witnessed someone dying in my presence, I think to myself, there he or she goes home to the Lord! That the soul actually leaves the body and goes to our Lord Jesus. Not only do I hope that I can recognize him when I die, but most especially, that he recognizes me, for I have definitely surrendered my body and soul to him.
The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that we must not fall into judgment over our brothers and sisters. Don’t get me wrong, we receive at Confirmation the Gift of the Holy Spirit called right judgement. It’s a thin line between having right judgement and not falling into judgement over our brother or sister. God forgives, and then he forgets! What a gift! We tend to forgive, but never forget. God does not ask the impossible from us. God asks us to grow in his image. If we are able to do so, our hearts will be changed. As God has shown us his mercy and love, we are called to do the same. If this is too deep or seems impossible or complicated, I would simply ask you to start by offering a prayer to God that you will be able to start to forgive. Ask him for the grace to simply begin.
I would like to end my homily with a little joke. It is written by Victoria Velasco:
My mother and I were at the hospital awaiting some test results when several firemen were wheeled into the emergency room on stretchers. One young man was placed into the cubicle next to us. A hospital employee began to ask him questions so she could fill out the necessary paperwork. When he was asked his phone number, we had to laugh. His reply? “911.”
As we remember the events of 9/11 or the need to call 911 in times of trouble, may we be reminded of God’s presence in our lives. For only He gives us what we truly need; forgiveness, mercy, love, and salvation.