Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Homily - Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost - November 2, 2014

Eph. 6:10-17; Matt. 18:23-35

The readings today want to keep us from hopelessness, from futility.  St. Paul is writing to the newly-baptized in Ephesus.  It was thought that human events were controlled by spirits, often hostile to persons.  That kind of fatalism would make anyone despondent.  What freedom they have in Christ, then, over Whom there is no greater power in His cross and resurrection.  We have an intellect, which God made to know the truth, and free will, which God made to choose the good.  The greatest good, is, of course, God Himself, and love is an act of the will.  People of faith are not subject to the spirits, but enlightened by faith and strengthened by grace, are able to choose God and His way.  And so St. Paul reminds them that our struggle is not against human powers, but against spiritual ones, and so we need spiritual means, spiritual tools, spiritual weapons.  These are faith, truth, and the Gospel.  With these armor, we will be able to keep our attention fixed on Christ, and so to live in true freedom and in hope.

In the Gospel parable, the mystery is that no one can pay for their sins.  The first servant owed a debt of ten thousand talents.  This would be something like the national debt of the United States.  He could not pay it back.  The second servant owed a hundred pence.  A pence was about a day’s wage.  He did not have the wherewithal to pay this back.  The mystery is that we cannot remit for our sins, whether great or small.  This would make us despondent, but for the grace of God which remits sins, completely and entirely, freely and gratuitously.

But, it must affect our lives.  This was the failure of the first servant.  He was freed from his enormous debt, but it didn’t affect him very much, it didn’t change his life, so that when his fellow servant asked him for the same mercy, he would not grant it to him.  That we are truly forgiven must affect us.  If we truly believe that our sins have been forgiven, it must change us.  It must make us people of hope, and having hope, we want to share that with others, in compassion, and with the world, in service.

            I can only think of the Gospel from yesterday, the Feast of All Saints, the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes.  If we truly believe that God has forgiven us and is with us, we can face any difficulty in life not with despondency and futility, but with the blessedness of faith, knowing that we draw life from God.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  With all our reliance on God, we know we can prevail over any of the powers in the world.

There is a moral at the end of this parable.  “Unless you forgive your brother from your heart, neither will the Father forgive you.”  We need to understand our Lord’s words in the right way.  Certainly, it cannot mean that God’s forgiveness is contingent on our forgiveness of others.  It is the truth of our faith that God takes the initiative.  Faith, grace, forgiveness, come from Him first.  What then can this mean?  In a similar way, one of the Beatitudes says, “Blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be theirs.”  It does not mean that mercy begins with us, but that it has its reward.  Mercy is a quality of God, whereby, out of love, He overlooks what is weak and sinful in His people and sees what is good.  He has made us good, we are worthy of being redeemed by the paschal mystery of His cross and resurrection.  If, when we go to judgment before God, and can say to Him, “Father, I overlooked what was weak and sinful in others, and saw what was good,” mercy shall be ours, our sins shall be forgiven.  We will hear the blessed words of the Father say to us, “You remind me of my Son.”