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สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

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2019-11-18 22:50

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24th Sunday of the Year
Sirach 27:30–28:9; Romans 14:7–9; Matthew 18:21–35

Two soldiers
When we find it hard to forgive others, we should turn to Jesus for the help we need to do this.

Corrie ten Boom lived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands during World War II. Her family owned a watchmaker’s shop.

When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, her family began to help Jews, who were systematically being rounded up
and sent to death camps. Eventually someone turned the family in, and they were sent off to concentration camps.
Corrie and her sister, Betsy, were sent to the infamous Ravensbruck camp.

Only Corrie survived the family ordeal. After the war
she traveled about Europe, lecturing on forgiveness and reconciliation.

After one talk in Munich, Germany, a man came forward
 to thank her for the talk. Corrie couldn’t believe her eyes.
He was one of the Nazi guards who used to stand duty
in the women’s shower room at Ravensbruck.



The man reached out to shake Corrie’s hand. Corrie froze, unable to take his hand. The horror of the camp and the
death of her sister leaped back into her memory. She was filled with resentment and revulsion.
Corrie couldn’t believe her response. She had just given a moving talk on forgiveness, and now she herself couldn’t forgive someone. She was emotionally blocked, unable to shake the guard’s hand.

What Corrie experienced is something we all experience from time to time in life. We find ourselves unable to forgive someone. We experience an emotional block toward a certain person who has hurt us.

This raises an agonizing question.
How do we handle such a problem? What do we do when we can’t forgive someone?
How do we get rid of the emotional block that chokes off our best efforts to forgive?
How do we carry out Jesus’ instruction to forgive in today’s gospel reading?
How will we heed the warning in today’s first reading, which says that if we refuse mercy to our brothers and sisters, what can we expect from God?

Let’s go back to our story about Corrie. Let’s see how
she handled her problem. As Corrie stood there, frozen,
she began to pray silently:

Jesus, I cannot forgive this man. Give me your forgiveness.

At that moment, she said, her hand, as if empowered by another source, took the guard’s hand in true forgiveness.
At that moment she discovered a great truth.

It is not on our own forgiveness that healing in our world hinges, but on His. When Jesus commands us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command the grace we
will need to forgive them.

And so the first way to handle the problem of not being able to forgive someone is to ask Jesus for the grace to forgive.

The second way to handle the problem is hinted at in today’s gospel reading. It is to do what the official failed to do. It is to sit ourselves down in God’s presence and recall how much  and how often God has forgiven us. He has forgiven us infinitely more than he is asking us to forgive others. The very least we can do in return is to reach out a hand of forgiveness
to our brothers and sisters.

There is a third way to handle the problem. It is to try to see our enemies  in a totally new light. It is to see them not as enemies but as humans who are hurting just as we are.

Let me explain what I mean.

In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, there is a moving scene. A battle rages between French and German soldiers.
A young German soldier lies in a shell hole, taking cover from artillery fire.

Suddenly a French soldier leaps into the same hole,
seeking cover also. Before the Frenchman can do anything, the German bayonets him several times. But the French soldier doesn’t die immediately. He lingers on.

The young German, hardly more than a boy, studies the Frenchman’s frightened eyes. He sees his mouth hanging
half open, and his lips dry and parched. The sight moves
him to pity, and he gives his enemy a drink of water from
his own canteen.

When the Frenchman finally dies, the young German feels great remorse. This is the first man he has killed. He wonders what his name is.

Seeing a wallet in the dead man’s pocket, he removes it reverently. In it are a few family photographs, one of a woman and a little girl.

The German soldier is deeply touched. He suddenly realizes that the dying man is not an enemy, but a father and a husband a human being who loves and is loved, just like himself. Moved to pity, he takes a piece of paper and copies down the dead man’s address. He will write a letter to his wife.

What happened in the shell hole? Did the German soldier suddenly realize his duty to love his fellow man and force himself to love the dying soldier?

Not at all! What happened was this. He suddenly saw the man who was supposed to be his enemy in a whole new light. And it was this change of vision that changed his attitude toward him.

Jesus prayed on the cross for his executioners: Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing. Luke 23:34

Jesus saw his executioners in a much different light than we see them. He saw beyond their external appearance. He saw them as they really were: children of his Father who had lost their way.

If we are to be able to forgive our enemies, we must begin to see them in a new light. We must begin to see them as Jesus sees them.

And so the answer to how to handle our inability to forgive is the following: First, we ask Jesus for the grace to forgive, as Corrie did. Second, we recall that Jesus has forgiven us
infinitely more than he is asking us to forgive. Third, we try to see our enemy the way Jesus saw his enemies as brothers and sisters who have lost their way.

Today’s gospel invites us to take inventory of our relationships with others, especially members of our own family. It invites us to ask ourselves if any of these relationships need to be improved upon. It invites us to take the initiative to begin the healing process.

Let us close with the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is
sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it
 is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are  pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Series II
24th Sunday of the Year
Sirach 27:30–28:9; Romans 14:7–9; Matthew 18:21–35

The forgiving son
Forgiveness blesses the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven.
Doris Donnelly wrote a beautiful book called Putting Forgiveness into Practice. It contains this moving story.

One day a seven-year-old boy was riding in the back seat
of the family car. He was sitting between his two brothers.
Their mother was driving.

On this day their mother was feeling especially distraught
over having been recently abandoned by their father.

Suddenly, in a fit of anger, she spun around and struck the seven-year-old a blow across the face. Then she yelled at him:

And you! I never wanted you. The only reason I had you
was to keep your father. But then he left anyway. I hate you.

That scene branded itself on the boy’s memory. Over the years his mother reinforced her feelings toward him  by constantly finding fault with him.  Years later that son
told Doris Donnelly:

I can’t tell you how many times in the last twenty-three years
I relived that experience. Probably thousands.

Then he added:

But recently I put myself in my mother’s shoes. Here she was, a high school graduate with no money, no job, and a family to support. I realized how lonely and depressed she must have felt.
I thought of the anger and the pain that must have been there.
And I thought of how much I reminded her of the failure of her young hopes. And so one day I decided to visit her and talk to her. I told her that I understood her feelings and that I loved her just the same.

She broke down and we wept in each other’s arms for what seemed to be hours. It was the beginning of a new life for me, for her for us. (slightly adapted)

This story is a beautiful illustration of the healing power of forgiveness.

To use the words of Shakespeare, forgiveness is “twice blest.”
It blesses the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven.

Let’s see how it does this.

First, forgiveness blesses the one who forgives.

Take the young man in the story. He says that when he forgave his mother, it was the beginning of a new life for him.

Time after time, we hear other people say the same thing
after they have forgiven someone.

For example, a young woman who forgave her father, after they had not spoken for seven years, said of the experience:

It was like being released from prison. I was free and happy
for the first time in seven years.

Author John Lavater says of forgiveness:

Someone who has never forgiven an enemy has missed
one of the most beautiful experiences of life.

And so the first point about forgiveness is that it blesses the one who forgives.

This brings us to the second point. Forgiveness also blesses the one who is forgiven.

Again, take the young man in the story. His forgiveness of his mother blessed her in an amazing way: It literally healed her.

She was transformed from someone who was so bitter that she told her son, “I hate you and never wanted you” to someone who told him, “I love you and want you with all my heart.”

Again, time after time, we hear of people who have been transformed when someone has forgiven them.

Take a widely publicized case of a woman who forgave the man who murdered her daughter. Prison officials said her
act of forgiveness transformed him into a model prisoner.

And so the second point about forgiveness is that it also blesses the one who is forgiven.

This raises a practical question.
What do we do when we find that we can’t forgive someone?
What do we do to get rid of the emotional block that often keeps us from forgiving another?

Again, the answer lies  in the story of the young man.

The thing that made the difference between his ability to forgive his mother and his inability to do so was his changed perception of her. He no longer saw her as a terrible person
who said a terrible thing to a little boy.

Rather, he saw her as a high school graduate who had no money, no job, and a family of four to support. And once
he saw her in this new light, he saw how lonely and depressed she was. He says:

I thought of the anger and the pain that must have been there.
And I thought of how much I reminded her of the failure of her young hopes.

And so the key to the young man’s ability to forgive his  mother lay in the fact that he suddenly saw her in a new light.
And that new perception led to his change of attitude toward her.
The point is clear.

If we are to forgive our enemies, we must make the effort to see them as Jesus sees them: not as terrible people, but as frightened, hurt children of his Father who have lost their way.

And so today’s readings invite us to ask ourselves about our relationships with others.
If they aren’t what they should be, then today’s readings invite us to take the initiative to change them just as the
young man in the story did.

And if we open our heart and do this, it will lead to a whole new life for us and for the one we forgive.
Let’s close with the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there
 is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it
 is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Series III
24th Sunday of the Year
Sirach 27:30–28:9; Romans 14:7–9; Matthew 18:21–35

Compassion and kindness
Helping others as we would want them to help us.
You should have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as
 I had mercy on you. Matthew 18:33

Kent Nerburn has a doctorate in religion and art. He has written several books, including one entitled, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.
Each chapter of this book is devoted to a line from that beautiful prayer, attributed to Saint Francis.
 
The seventh chapter is entitled “Where There Is Sadness, Let Me Sow Joy.”

Kent begins by saying that for 20 years of his life, he drove a cab on the night shift. When he took the job, he had no idea that it would turn out to be a spiritual ministry.

He explains by saying that his cab became a kind of “rolling confessional.” People sat in the back in total anonymity,
revealing their lives to him sharing things with him that they’d never reveal in the bright light of day.

Of all the people Kent met during those 20 years of driving a taxi, none matched a fare he picked up late one night in August. The call came in at 2:30 in the morning. When he arrived at the address, the building was totally dark,
except for a dim light in a ground-floor window.


Under circumstances like this, cab drivers usually honk once or twice, wait for a minute, and then drive off.

The situation is just too risky to get out of the cab and walk up to the door.

But Kent was no ordinary cab driver. Unless he sensed immediate danger, he made it a point to get out and knock.

He reasoned that if it were his own father or mother who made the call and needed help, he’d want someone to make the effort. So he walked up to the door and knocked.

There was a long pause. Then a faint voice said, “Just a minute.” As he stood there waiting in the darkness,  he
heard the sound of something being dragged across the floor.

Then the door opened slowly. It was a tiny woman in her 80s.
She was dragging a small suitcase.

After giving him an address, she said, “Before taking me there, would you mind driving me downtown? I’m in no hurry; I am going to a hospice.”

He glanced up at the rearview mirror and saw tears in the woman’s eyes. At that point, he switched off the meter.

For the next two hours, he drove her around town. They stopped at an old warehouse that used to be a ballroom,
where she went dancing as a teenager. They stopped at another building, where she once worked.


They drove to the neighborhood and to the house where she lived when she first got married.

After a few more stops, the sun was about to come up;
and she said to Kent, “I’m tired. Let’s go to the hospice.”

Together, they drove in silence to the address. It turned out to be a hospice for dying people without families to care for them.

After Kent helped her out of the car and saw her safely to the door, she opened her purse and asked him what the fare was.

He said gently, “There is no charge.” Then almost without thinking, he stooped down, gathered her in his arms,
and gave her a big hug. She held him tightly and said,
“You’ve made an old woman very, very happy tonight.”

There was nothing more to say or do. So he squeezed her hand gently, got back into his cab, and drove off.  For the
rest of that day, he could hardly talk.

All the while, he kept thinking to himself: “What if I had refused to take her call; or what if I’d honked once,  and drove off? Or what if she’d gotten an abusive driver,
who was impatient to end his shift and get home?”
Then an even worse thought came to him.
“How many times have I failed to ‘sow joy, where there was sadness’?”
Think now of today’s reading. The compassion and kindness of that cab driver mirrors the kindness and the compassion of the king in Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel.
It also stands in stark contrast to the ungrateful wretch who was so abusive to a man in need, after the king had treated him with compassion and kindness.

And this automatically brings us to  each one of us in this Church. Let me begin with myself.
Being of German descent, I tend to keep a rather disciplined schedule. I plan things out to the minute.

Well, that has a good side and a bad side. The good side is obvious. The discipline makes you efficient and productive.

The bad side is that you tend to be impatient or antsy,
when someone interrupts you or spends a lot of time
talking about something you can do nothing about.

I find it very hard to do what the cabdriver did in the story.
I guess what I am saying is that I hope the story of Kent
and the parable of Jesus will start you thinking the way it
did me.
More importantly, I pray that it will generate in both of us
a resolve to be more compassionate, more kind, and more understanding in the days ahead.

For as Saint Teresa of Avila used to put it, “It is not what we do that is the most important thing in God’s eyes. It is the love that goes into the doing of it.”
Let us close with a poem. It’s not a great poem, but it has a great message. It reads:It isn’t the thing you do, dear, It’s the thing you leave undoneThat gives you a bit of a heartache At the setting of the sun.

The tender word forgotten, The letter you did not write, The flowers you did not send, dear, are your haunting ghosts at night. Author unknown

It is this message that Jesus wants us to carry forth from this Church today and put into practice. It’s a message that both
we and our world need to take to heart.