Homily for 9/17

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Homily for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

WRATH and ANGER are hateful things
yet the sinner hugs them tight.

And not just wrath and anger: 
we hold on to so many things, hugging them tightly,
things that do us no good and only bring harm,
things that separate us from one another and from God,
things like

Oh, what time and energy we invest in clutching and holding on like this,
time and energy that might be devoted to so many,
more worthwhile and more fruitful efforts.
How many relationships in our families,
in our neighborhoods and friendship circles,
in our parish,
how many of our relationships are strained, at odds or ruined
because we hold tight so many stubborn feelings and emotions
that separate us from one another?
And the problem is not just among us.
In the first reading, Sirach asks some good and penetrating questions.

- How can we nourish, how can we feed the anger we hold
and expect to be free and open to receive the Lord’s peace?

- How can we cherish and embrace our wrath and contempt
and hope to reach at the same time for God’s merciful pardon?

Too often we think that circumstances peculiar to our own situation
give us license to hold a grudge
and permission to withhold forgiveness
on account of the harm that’s been done us?

How often do we think we’ve tried hard enough and long enough
and should at some point be free to stop trying
to be merciful and forgiving?

Jesus answers this point eloquently in the gospel today:
How many times must you let go your anger and wrath?
Seven times?  No… more like 77 times!
 (a mystical number meant to imply an infinite number!)

When we let go our wrath and anger,  our resentment and grudges,
our envy and stubborn pride, our prejudices and hard feelings,
then we free our arms to embrace mercy and love
and when we embrace mercy and love
then we embrace God.

We go to the Lord’s Table now, in the shadow of the Cross,
where Christ laid down everything, emptying himself out
in mercy and love for us
opening his arms wide to embrace us
and to teach us how to fill our arms and hearts.

This is a time for us to look,
as we approach the altar,
to see what we carry in our arms this morning,
to see what we hold tight,
to see what we need to let go...

At this altar Jesus opens his arms in mercy
and seeks to fill us with his love,
inviting us to embrace him, his Body and Blood,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

Pray with me that he who forgives us over and over again
will teach us to forgive one another in the same way.


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  1. Father, could you post this song on your sidebar, with the other songs, please?

  2. What song are you referring to, Vicki?


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