24th Sunday
Sir 27:30-28:7; Rm 14:7-9; Mt 18:2-35
Rev. John Tran Kha, Houston, TX

one of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord. If we dies, we die for the Lord."

We live and die for the Lord by practicing what Jesus teaches us:
a. To forgive
b. To work for justice

To Forgive

Last week I was driving on the Katy Ft. Bend road. A man was driving out from the driveway at the Carpet Exchange store. I happened to be at that spot, and I thought I was blocking his way. I drove my car up a little with the intention to give him space to get out. He thought I tried to block him. He was mad. He gave me his finger. When he got out to the road, he tried to speed up to pass me, show me his fist, and finger again. I was tempted to give my finger back to him, but I decided not to do it. First because I am a priest, and second, he might be a parishioner!

It is difficult to swallow our pride and our anger in order to forgive others when

They do something to offend us. There are many things that other people do that can make us mad. For example:
A person driving behind you might be impatiently honking the car thinking you are driving too slowly or you are not quick enough when the green light is on.

A driver behind you seems to be driving into your trunk.
Someone brings baby to a movie.
Children misbehave or make noise in church.
The kid on the bus who has set his personal stereo headphone volume so high that you could sing along.
A person sitting next to you in a waiting room or at the airport keep talking on the cell phone as if everyone else must know how important he is.
A cashier clerk makes a mistake at the check out counter that makes you stand waiting in the line too long.

We can be outrage over the everyday incivilities happen around us. People can be insensitive, inconsiderate and rude.

There are things too bad to be forgiven: Terrorism, adultery, murder, embezzlement, sexual abuses etc. How many times should we forgive them?

Where is the limitation?

When should we say, "Stop it! That’s enough!"

Even Peter had trouble with this one. Peter must have thought he was being overly generous in proposing to forgive someone as many as seven times. Maybe he expected Jesus to reply that just two or three times was more than enough. Jesus says forgive seventy times seven; that means always. Don't bother to count. There is no limit in forgiving.

Sirach makes a point in the first reading. He asks his readers:

"Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?"

"Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins?"

The implied answer is "NO."

Mercy or Merciless

Jesus gives us a parable to understand why should we forgive others. He begins with a story about a servant who was deeply in debt and unable to pay. He was released from paying anything by his gracious master. The compassion of the master is overwhelming. This servant must feel the deepest gratitude for the mercy that was extended to him. He must have spent the rest of his life imitating the master and his benevolence. But, it is not so. He has the chance to display mercy to the other fellow servant, but to our surprise, he is not merciful at all. Instead, he treats his fellow servant mercilessly. The other fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed. They could not stand his rude behavior. They reported it to the master!

Work for Justice

Are you disturbed when you see injustice happens to our brothers and sisters?

Are you disturbed when the terrorists hijacked the airplanes and flew into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and crashed another in Pennsylvania last September 11th killing thousands of innocent lives?

Are you disturbed when the U. S. pilots mistakenly dropped the bombs in Afghanistan killing hundreds of civilians?

Are you disturbed when the Palestinian suicide bombers set off the explosive devices to kill themselves and others in the Middle East?

Are you disturbed when the Israelis military tanks, canons and helicopters go into Gaza bank and into the Palestinian territories to destroy their houses?

Are you disturbed when the Al Quida and the Taliban intentionally attacked us?

Are you disturbed when thousands of innocent babies are aborted everyday?

Are you disturbed when we are fighting with obesity, overeating, too much fat, too much food while millions of people in the world are starving?

What are we to do?

Speak out!
Report it to the authority!
Report it to God!
Fight for the people who cannot fight for themselves.
Speak for the people who cannot speak for themselves.
When we see people are being treated unjustly, we have the obligation to speak out!

Last Friday, Eunice Stone overheard several men talking and laughing about what she thought might be a terrorist plot while she was eating breakfast at a Shoney's restaurant. She called and reported it to the Georgia State Patrol.

We have to show mercy to others as our heavenly Father shows his mercy to us.

We have the obligation to speak out against oppression and the unjust. We have to speak out to defend our brothers and sisters who cannot speak or defend for themselves.