Daily Archives: September 12, 2020

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 September 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 18: 21-35

I recently re-visited The Forgiveness Book by Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau. Published in 2008, it remains the most beautiful book on forgiveness I’ve ever read. And it nudges me to ask some questions about how things got so out of hand with the master and his servant in this parable.

How on earth did that servant rack up a debt of what would be a billion dollars today? And how did the master let the debt get that high in the first place? Well, since the Master is God, and the servant is us, the answer is easy.  Thousands of years of greed, of using the earth as our personal slave, and the willful turning away from the Golden Rule have created our unfathomable debt.

Now, the other guy in the parable owed the servant the equivalent of a quarter of a year’s income. That’s a figure we can visualize. That represents a loss of three months’ rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries, and Netflix. That hurts. That’s money we want to get back, and we can get pretty aggressive in hounding the one who owes it until we finally recover it, usually in nickels and dimes.

The first servant, the one with the huge debt, was a sinner. Yes, our hearts break when he and his wife and children are sold as repayment of that debt, but wouldn’t they have to be sold thousands of times in order to get close to what he owed? See, that’s us. There’s nothing we can do to repay God for our purposely hardened hearts. Unless, maybe, we start softening them through the redemptive acts of forgiving the smaller debts owed to us.

When was the last time you forgave someone? Did you feel your heart softening as you did?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 September 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 18: 15-20

Let’s be honest. Sometimes one person—-our boss, maybe—will come to us in private and try to correct us in a chronic behavior we have that is making the workplace difficult, or making it harder for our peers to complete their work successfully. We might nod courageously and agree that, gosh, now that this has been pointed out we are going to be ever so much better.

But I don’t think we actually believe that we are the problem. Even as the boss is talking, we’re shutting her out. And when our behavior doesn’t change, and she brings a few co-workers to tell us that they, too, have the same problem with us, we are astounded—silently—that these people whom we thought were so smart have turned out to be as clueless as the boss. Don’t they see how nuanced we are, how creative we are, and, well, how much smarter we are than they?

That’s the problem with following Jesus’ exhortation about resolving conflicts. If we were spiritually disciplined enough to take correction and change our behavior, chances are we wouldn’t have that problem to begin with. A whole army of friends could stage an intervention, and we’d roll our eyes and stalk away. Time to get some new friends.

My new rule is that if I ever feel ganged up on, or bewildered about why friends seem to fade away, I immediately do the most counter-intuitive thing. I assume that I am causing the problem. I may not see it today, but tomorrow will be so much easier if I take responsibility now for what I may not clearly see for another ten years.

When have you adjusted your behavior based on the correction of others?

Kathy McGovern ©2020