Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 12, 2010
Scriptural Reference: Matthew 18:21-35
When you saw the length of today’s Gospel reading, you may have wondered why I did not opt to read the shorter form. Well, I do not really understand why we would even be given the option to shorten the reading, leaving out one of the greatest stories of the entire Bible, a story we all need to hear in order to believe for ourselves that Jesus welcomes sinners into his presence; that Jesus rejoices in anyone of us showing signs of conversion. Are we able to believe that there is more joy in heaven for one sinner who repents than for 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance? Are we able to admit that at some point or other in our life we have to identify with this repentant sinner and rejoice that in turn each of us has to be that one repentant sinner that brings so much joy in Heaven.
Furthermore, this longer Gospel is a reminder that the reading of Scripture at the Eucharist is not just something good to include or exclude; it is an essential part of the Eucharist. For me reading this wonderful story has much more to offer than anything I could say about it. This classic story reminds us that we too must be forgiving towards those who have offended us. I am sure that parents who have experienced the hurt of seeing their children go astray identify with the father in the story in a special way. We certainly all identify with the son who sins, hits bottom and needs forgiveness. I am also sure most of us have been petty like the other son who feels neglected because his father is generous in forgiving.
This great story is our story if we allow our loving God to come into our lives and be so generous towards us sinners. May we rejoice in being gently welcomed.