Year A: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The kingdom of heaven exists right now for those who forgive as God forgives us.

Three women praying

Ezekiel 33: 7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20

‘Remember the covenant of the Most High and overlook the offence.’  Engagement with God changes our perspectives.  The author is able thereby to name and dissect the pathology of resentment, anger, vengeance, hurt and speak of prayer, forgiveness, compassion and pity. He can diagnose the human as now: ‘mere creatures of flesh’. The relationship contextualises humanity as making sense only in a relationship with the Divine.  Creatures of flesh, rightly viewed and rightly remembering the covenant, are heirs to the inexpressible transforming love of God. Humanity only makes sense if viewed as partners in a conversation with the Divine.

Human life and death (Paul takes up the old theme) – have no meaning outside a relationship with God. This is the great lesson for Paul of the life and death of Jesus. Humanity in life and death belong to and make sense in and with God. This is an inclusive message – not to be exclusively captured by any one Church or gathering or religion. Christianity has no need to counter-propose its faith, caught from Jesus, against the faiths or humanities of others since that faith is mirrored in every heart that wishes to find it, in every religion, in every human stirring towards truth. Christian belief in death and resurrection should ratify and affirm every human longing – not oppose them.

Ultimately, the relationship between God and humanity coalesces around the man who can say out of the very depth of that relationship that we can and must forgive our brother: ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.’  The man who can show that degree of insight is both man and God.  Humanity at its best reveals the divine heartbeat of forgiveness and compassion.  Dialogue transforms the human into the divine.  All our small dialogues have been transformed by the incarnation of the divine.  The story Jesus told rings true to the life of the ‘mere creatures of flesh’.  He uses it to underline his conviction that true humanity can only be achieved through imitation of God. The kingdom of heaven exists now for those who forgive as God forgives us.