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Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

16 September 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 18:21-35

Last year around Thanksgiving I read a story that’s stuck with me all year. The author was writing about her father, who estranged himself from his family when his kids were young. He was a no-show at their birthdays and graduations. He did ask to attend her wedding, but expected nothing, and sat by himself in the back, grateful to be invited.

Several years went by. He began sending cards and gifts for her birthday. She ignored them. He left cheery notes on her phone. She deleted them. But here’s the thing: he never stopped. Over the course of many years, he never stopped showing her, in countless thoughtful ways, that he loved her and wanted to be in her life.

It would have been easy to just let him go on, never hearing from her, never receiving any acknowledgement from her. It would have been a satisfying revenge for a childhood spent yearning for him.

But the author did an astonishing thing. She called him and invited him to Thanksgiving dinner with her family (which included her mother, whom he had hurt so dearly all those years ago). He  tearfully accepted. He arrived with gifts for the table and for her. Her mother allowed a short hug. The tense dinner began, and within a few minutes the conversation turned to sports and the weather.

Thus began a reconciliation that took just a year or two to thaw her cold heart. Her mother had long ago forgiven her father, and that seemed to give her permission to do the same. God willing, they’ll all be at Thanksgiving dinner again this year.

Forgiveness. The most delicious feast at any meal.

What experience do you have of forgiveness?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Ordinary Time - Cycle A

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