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Contents: Volume 2 - Twentieth Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – September 17, 2017


 

The

24th

Sunday

2017

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. --

6.. (Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Sun.24 A

The readings today have an absolutely clear message. They tell us that Lord will repay us according to our thoughts and behavior. Uh, oh, it may be time to examine our lives really carefully.

How much of our lives are consumed by wrath, anger, or vengeance? If the answer is any part at all, perhaps we need to reflect on how we are actually consumed by these negative emotions and actions. Any time we spend with this type of internal darkness only makes our outlook more violent and our lives more dismal.

What about mercy, pardon, and forgiveness? Are these an automatic part of our reaction to hurts, slights, or even injustice? If not, how do we make it so?

It is time that we tried a bit harder to "live for the Lord". In our first reading, Sirach reminds us that everyone else is "another like himself"/herself. For me, that is THE key to swallowing any initial righteous indignation or worse that I might feel in a particular situation. It is not just a caution sign, it is a full stop sign.

After the stop, it is much easier for me to remember the road of forgiveness. No one is perfect. If feels personally freeing to show mercy and to pardon another, not grudgingly but genuinely from the heart. Random acts of kindness soon evolve into the usual way one can think and act. Before much time has past, there can be a notable change from a grumpy grouch to a pleasant person.

These positive changes affect the person first and then those around him or her. Life becomes more enjoyable. God must be smiling along the away.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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2.

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Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – September 17, 2017

Peter tries hard to understand and do what Jesus teaches. He doesn't always quite "get it", but like ourselves, is open-hearted and good-natured in his efforts to be a disciple. So he is generous in his willingness to forgive others who have offended him – even up to seven times.

Jesus takes us beyond our limitations and invites us into the very heart of the Divine Mystery.

The Kingdom of God is something like this he tells us: imagine a rich man, a king even, who is settling accounts with his slaves. Why would a king have an account with his slave I wonder. And how would a slave amass a debt that staggers the mind even in these times of excessive indebtedness? It's like he had a VISA card with a million dollar limit and charged ten million dollars to it. Just think of the interest on that!

Of course the slave can't repay his astronomical debt. He falls to his knees and begs for more time. "Because he was compassionate, the master of that slave let him go and cancelled the debt". (This probably won't work with your bank manager or credit card company)

But his master's compassion doesn't soften the slave's heart. He meets one of his fellow slaves who owes him a few dollars, grabs him by the neck and demands he "pay up". When this poor fellow begs for mercy, it's not there. He's dealing with a credit card company, not the king.

To live in God's Kingdom on earth is to live with this contrast. We are probably very familiar with the kingdom of this world. Debts are due and to be paid – it's only "right" and just. But God's Kingdom doesn't work like this.

We are invited to live in the very heart of Divine Mystery. To be compassionate as God is compassionate. To live as God Is. As Christians, perhaps we could say: "to put on Christ".

I have a theory that all our "sins", "mistakes", "stupidities", embarrassing situations and humiliating actions are meant to turn us to compassion? When someone offends us can we remember and excuse and understand, because "once upon a time", maybe just yesterday, we did the same thing without malice or intention?

So like Peter, we are meant to live in God's Spirit, and to pass along the compassion and love we are receiving.

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada

bcoop60@yahoo.com

 

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3.

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Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordered Time September 17 2017

Sirach 27:30-28:7; Responsorial Psalm 103; Romans 14:7-9; Gospel Acclamation John 13:34; Matthew 18:21-35

Parents and grandparents have a hope their children will always care about each other, speak with each other, avoid criticizing each other, and get along. But the most common experience is fights between families that grieve those parents. It's a common experience that as parents/grandparents move to the other side of life, the children begin feuds over inheritances, over perceived favoritism, over in-law squabbles and fights. Little things, a brooch, a book, an artifact, some money, some property, an old car – any of these things can break up the closest families. What parent/grandparent would not grieve over such behavior? Yet it happens in even the most loving families. What on earth is wrong with us? What difference does a brooch, an artifact, a book, an old car, even some property mean in the long run? What is there about us that drags us into argument, claims of favoritism, and clinging to unsubstantiated slights? What on earth can divide us from our brothers and sisters? What on earth can jeopardize the parental love that brought us into the world and nourished us through our years of childhood and adolescence? It happens almost always. When that happens, respect for and the dignity of parents and grandparents is threatened. Their support and efforts for us is denigrated, bankrupted. What should be a celebration of their lives and appreciation for lives lived is destroyed by conflicts between children and grandchildren.

Why is it so terribly difficult to forgive? Why do we harbor in our hearts destructive anger at others? We claim to be Christians, followers of Jesus: yet we forget his last words spoken as he suffered terrible pain, terrible isolation, terrible loss of friends and followers. He prayed to the Father the Father forgive them, because "they didn’t know what they were doing". Who are the "them" Jesus asks the Father to forgive? It’s all of us: this prayer is not limited to the chief priests, the Sadducees, the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin: not even the Roman soldiers who were just following orders. So if Jesus could forgive as he was dying as a result of his enemies’ hatred, as he was suffering the denial and rejection of his friends, even as he was dying because of our unwillingness to accept his teaching of the commandment of love for each other. If Jesus could forgive, what is wrong with us who claim to follow him: Why are we unable to let go of our egos, our self-centeredness? What we unable to forgive each other for little or even heavy things? Perhaps we should study the Cross with greater understanding!

That is the message of Sirach, of Psalm 103, of the Gospel Acclamation, and of Matthew’s gospel. It’s time we examine ourselves and decided whether we are to follow the Christ or not.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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4.

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FORGIVING OVER AND OVER AGAIN: 24TH SUNDAY A

Last Monday September the 11th was the 16th anniversary of the wickedness which led to the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. and the destruction of thousands of lives and families. It all seems simply unforgivable. So much so that it may be almost impossible to accept what Jesus says in his message today about the need to forgive others completely and always.

It doesn’t help that we find ourselves living in a society which is often hell-bent on revenge for the hurt and harm which human beings inflict upon one another. But pay-back was not the attitude of Jesus, and it has not been the attitude of his genuine followers, such as Martin Luther King. He courageously led the movement for human and civil rights for his people. But for all his efforts, he ended up being murdered in cold blood. Yet he used to say: ‘Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it’s a permanent attitude.’ In fact, it’s a healthy attitude as well. For nursing anger, resentment, and desire for revenge are dangerous for our health, and in some instances even fatal.

Nicholas is a dedicated young man who runs a faith-renewal program for men in prison. Those who take part are regularly ‘bagged’ by the other prisoners. On one occasion a man was bashed on his way back to his cell, simply for taking part in what his assailant called ‘that Christian thing’. Yet he refused to reveal to the warden the name of his assailant, even when the warden threatened to get his sentence extended. Why did he refuse to dob in his enemy? His answer in his own words was this: ‘I wanted to forgive another human being just like God has forgiven me.’ When the one who had bashed him heard about this, he was so deeply affected by his victim’s answer that a few months later he himself signed up for faith renewal, and experienced the power of ‘that Christian thing’ for himself.

What happened to both prisoners is an extension of the story which Jesus told about being ready to forgive as readily and as generously as God forgives us, which is to say, over and over and over again.

In the days of Peter and Jesus, the Jewish rabbis taught that the duty to forgive had been fulfilled if one forgave an offender three times. Peter must have thought he was being extra generous by offering to forgive seven times. But for members of his community Jesus teaches that there’s to be no limit to their forgiveness. His teaching makes him stand out from all other teachers. So does the way he followed this up as he hung dying upon the cross, by asking God to forgive his unrepentant executioners, because they ‘don’t realize what they are doing’.

Quite a bit is being written today on the question of reconciliation. Until recently we have thought that the process begins with the offender repenting of the offence and then asking for forgiveness. Those who have done serious research in the matter disagree. They claim that the process must begin with the one offended offering forgiveness and that this willingness to forgive transforms that person. From being a victim, he/she becomes a survivor. They also claim that such generosity, as in my story of the prisoners, may touch the heart of the offender. So much so that the offender stops being an enemy and becomes a friend.

We all know how hard it can be to forgive someone who has offended us. That’s because our dignity and self-esteem have been wounded and our feelings have been hurt, perhaps very deeply. When we are hurt, our unredeemed instinct is to lash out, inflict pain in return and even up the score. Many people would not blame us for feeling like that. In fact, they would even encourage us to retaliate and take revenge. So much so that a recent TV series called ‘Revenge’ was popular. However, revenge and pay-back are the tough ways of the world, not the peace-making ways of Jesus. Once again his disciples follow a less-travelled road. It helps to remember that when we forgive we are imitating God and God’s ways with us. Nothing anyone owes us can compare with what we owe to God. If God has been so generous in forgiving us, surely we need to be generous in forgiving others.

Of course the process of becoming a forgiving person takes time. For some of us it may take a lifetime. Only little by little are our anger and fury, our bitterness and resentment reduced, and our desire to strike back and even perhaps to throttle the offender diminished. In fact, it is only through time and through the grace of God, i.e. through the influence of the Holy Spirit, that we can let go of our hurts.

Sad to say, one man who cannot let go of his anger is Phil Cleary, former champion Coburg footballer, and more recently a VFL football-caller on ABC television, with his own distinct and engaging style. In an article in the ‘Good Weekend’ a few years ago called ‘Maintaining the Rage’, he kept saying that he cannot let go of his anger towards the man who murdered his sister and towards the justice system. His feelings are very understandable, because of the huge pain of his loss and grief for the sister he loved so dearly, and our hearts go out to him. But on the other hand, it’s clear that unless and until Phil Cleary can come to accept his unjust loss and let go of his anger, he will never have any sense of closure and never enjoy the peace of mind that he so desperately craves.

His story tells me that if we become obsessed with our rage, anger, resentment, frustration, and desire for revenge, our obsession will tend to destroy us. On the other hand, it is only when we begin to forgive, that we will start to be healed. So, for the grace for ourselves to forgive others who have hurt and offended us, and for the grace for Phil Cleary and many others like him, to start to recover from the terrible things that have happened to them, let us pray sincerely and often to our God who is forgiveness in person!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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5.

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6.

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John
 


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