19th Week, Thursday, Aug 13

Ezekiel 12:1-12 / Matthew 18:21 - 19:1

God speaks to Ezekiel: “These rebellious people look but don’t see.”

 Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, made this provocative remark: “I have walked with people whose eyes are full of light but who see nothing in the sea or the sky, nothing in city streets, nothing in books. It is far better to sail forever in the light of blindness . . .than to be content with the mere act of seeing.” This is also the message in today’s reading. It is also a point that Jesus made in his lifetime: “This people . . . will look and look, but not see, because . . . they have . . . closed their eyes.” Matthew 13:14-15
How sensitive are we to the needs of people around us? Do we see the pain in their eyes? Do we see the face of Christ in their face? The Little Prince said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
It is very humiliating when others treat you as some kind of commodity. It is not just humiliation but also a total disregard for the human dignity and for the human person. When we are treated as a commodity, it means that we can be bought and sold for a price and the owner can do whatever he wants with us. In other words, it means that we are not human beings; we are just things that are to be used and when we are of no use, we can be thrown away. When Jesus told the parable of the servant who owned an enormous amount of money, the king had intended for him and his family to be sold in order to pay the debt. That servant was treated as a thing but when he pleaded for mercy, the king cancelled his debt and treated him as a human being.
Well, that servant ought to have treated his fellow servant who owed him a much lesser amount, with the same dignity that the king treated him. It has been often said that to forgive is divine; yet to forgive is also human.

Yet when we don't forgive, we become less human, if not inhumane. And when we take forgiveness for granted, then we will become like the people in the 1st reading. They took God's mercy and forgiveness for granted and hence they were exiled and were treated like things and not like human beings. As we are forgiven, so too must we forgive, if we want to live and be treated as human beings.
Thursday August 13

Thursday of 19th Week of Ordinary Time


In an expressive symbolic action Ezekiel shows how the king and most of the people will have to go into exile because they remain rebellious against God.
God is good and merciful by nature, forgiving, loyal, radiating generosity. It is natural for him to forgive. In our case, things are more complicated. Are we understanding and forgiving by nature? By calling, yes, but by nature? And second, in God’s case there is only one offended party, God. In our situation, quite often there are two offenders and two offended parties. Shall the twain ever meet, if only one is willing to let bygones be bygones and to make a fresh start? When we are hurt, we have to tear the word or gesture of forgiveness from our hearts. And yet, we have to do it seventy-times seven times, says the Lord…

Opening Prayer
God of mercy and compassion,
you know how sometimes
we have to wring forgiveness from our torn hearts.
Maybe we cannot pardon in others
what we condemn in ourselves.
We are at the same time guilty and offended.
God, help us to understand ourselves
that we may be more understanding to others
and that we may learn to forgive
totally and without regret
as you forgive us again and again
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In the performance of his prophetic action, Ezekiel clearly announces the punishment of God upon his obstinate people. In the daytime he is to prepare his baggage, then at night dig a hole through the city wall and go off in the darkness. Punishment in terms of capture and deportation was now inevitable for the Hebrew people. It was a sobering lesson indeed.
A similar price is demanded by the servant of the parable, who is merciless in his demand for repayment. In modem times, the payment of a debt, even an insignificant one, seldom takes into consideration the circumstances of the debtor. The king in today’s parable is equally exacting with his servant debtor until he is made aware of the man’s financial problems. Then the debt is forgiven in its entirety.
We sometimes have debtors who are slow to repay. We must be patient. And let us be hesitant about demanding our “pound of flesh” without considering the circumstances of the debtor. But above all, let us be mindful of our all forgiving Father who time after time has remitted all our debts without question.
This teaching comes into play when considering the death penalty. Regardless of what the crime may have been, to demand the life of the criminal is to resort to a type of murderous conduct. Conversion is always a possibility, and when it occurs God has made a gain. There are no limits to forgiveness. Let us pray for an expansive heart and to realize that pardon is at the heart of Jesus’ mission in the world.

Points to Ponder
The prophetic action of Ezekiel
The lesson of forgiveness
Reflection on the death penalty

– For the Church, that it may keep itself dedicated to bring reconciliation to its members and to the world, we pray:
– For all Christian Churches, long divided by grudges and pride, that we may be brought together in the unity of one gospel and one love of Christ, we pray:
– For those married couples that live side by side without much love and without communicating, that they may come to forgive, to understand and to appreciate each other again, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
we gather around this table
to remember with bread and wine
that your Son shed his blood to reconcile us to you.
Let this be a celebration
of pardon and peace with one another.
Help us to love one another with a sincere love
and to forgive one another,
for you have forgiven us much
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
you want us to live not in the past but for the future.
In the strength of this sacrament
of unity and forgiveness,
give us hearts generous enough
to let bygones be bygones
and to build up together a community of peace
in which we accept one another
with our gifts and faults,
as you accept us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

God has spoken very clearly to us today that we have to become like him, to forget and forgive, to heal and care, and we will be healed ourselves. May God be with you and bless you, that Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.