24th Sunday of the Year

Eccles 27:30–28:7; Rom 14: 7-9; Mt 18:21-35 (Year A)

“Resentment and anger, these are foul things, and both are found in the sinner.” These words of ancient wisdom underline an uncomfortable truth. There is within us all a tendency to resentment. Unchecked, we feed our resentments, nursing our hurts, be they real or imagined. Resentment leads to anger, anger to judgment, and judgment to alienation.

The author of the Book of Ecclesiasticus recognised this familiar pattern and did not hesitate to dismiss it as sinful. “If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins? Mere creature of flesh, who will forgive him his sins?”

In the heat of the moment we often seek to justify our anger, failing to recognise that anger is most commonly rooted in unrestrained selfishness. Words of forgiveness are readily spoken, and easily fall to the ground. If we are to live the reality of the Lord’s forgiveness, we must acknowledge that it frequently lies beyond our grasp.

We can sense Peter’s frustration when confronted with his Lord’s repeated insistence on forgiveness. “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?”

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