Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
This is one of those stories that I couldn’t verify if it were true…but it really ought to be.
A man in a large South American city placed an ad in the local newspaper addressed to his estranged son: Juan, Meet me at the Grand Plaza Hotel on Thursday at 6:00pm. All is forgiven. Love, Your Father
His son saw the ad and arrived at the hotel at the appointed time. But he found himself lost in an immense crowd: hundreds of young men all named Juan—every single one of them looking to be reunited with his own father.
Have you ever noticed how often “forgiveness” comes up in the course of every Mass?
In the Penitential Act: “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.” During the Gloria: “…you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us….” In the Creed: “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” At the Consecration: “…the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins….” During the Lord’s Prayer: “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us….” Before Holy Communion: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world….” It comes up so often because forgiveness is God’s business. And he’s rather extravagant about it. We’re not just dealing with a Master to whom we owe an exceptionally large amount; we’re dealing with our Maker, to whom we owe absolutely everything. As St. Paul reminds the Romans, “Both in life and death, we are the Lord’s.”
If God is so lavish with us—even in our sinfulness—how can we be tightfisted with one another?
Jesus lived and died and rose again, not simply to make us feel good or give us an example of how to “be nice,” but to heal a fatal wound, to bridge a gaping chasm: that sins may be forgiven. And we’ve been given the most amazing privilege of sharing in that mission by extending forgiveness to one another. In fact, as we’re reminded each and every time we repeat the Lord’s Prayer, we can only truly know that we’ve been forgiven when we pass it on to another.
Waiting to be forgiven is interminable. That’s why God wastes no time in making the offer, and repeats it many more than seventy-seven times. But he doesn’t print it in the newspaper. He sends the message to us alive, in his Word made flesh: All is forgiven. Love, Your Father.
Let’s be sure not to withhold from our brothers and sisters what God has so graciously extended to us.
with much inspiration taken from Fr. Lawrence Donohoo, O.P.