You Have to Know His Mercy to Show His Mercy

Homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
September 17, 2017
St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher – 8:00 AM; Holy Trinity, Tabor – 10:00 AM

Focus:              You have to know His mercy to show His mercy.
Function:        Know His mercy.


pope francis confession

To the servant, mercy was shown.
But by him, it was not known.
And because it was not known
To another, it could not be shown.
And because it could not be shown
In the end, the only thing to be known
Was pain and torture, which was shown

The debt he owed was massive.

In the time of Jesus, the main currency was the denarii. A denarii was a day’s wage. If one worked six days a week and rested on the Sabbath, there would be 312 working days in a year, so a person could earn 312 denarii per year.

A talent was six thousand denarii. If one worked 312 days per year, every year, it would take him 19 years to bring in one talent. A working man of that time would bring in his first talent after working for half of his lifetime.

This servant owed a “myriad of talents.”

A myriad was ten thousand.

Sixty million days’ wages.

It would take him 5,000 lifetimes to earn the amount needed to cover his debt. And that was before he provided for the needs of his family.

He owed a massive debt that he had absolutely no hope of paying.

And payment day came.

Payment day came, and he pleaded with the Master, “Please, give me some time! Be patient with me and I will pay you back in full!”

Be patient with me?!

Five thousand lifetimes! The servant owed ten thousand talents. The most he could hope to pay back was two!

Yet, the master did something incredible. He forgave the entire debt.

To the servant, mercy was shown.
But by him, it was not known.

It was not known because he did not accept the forgiveness of the debt. The Master looked upon him with pity, but like so many of us, he didn’t want pity. He wanted to pay back what he owed even though it was impossible. He wanted to pull himself up by his bootstraps. He accepted not mercy but an extension on an unpayable loan.

Rather than looking with amazement and profound gratitude on the incredible gift he has just been given, he runs to the couch and digs through the cushions, looking for enough change to make the next payment on his mansion.

He spurns the gift of the Master.

He chokes the servant who owes him 100 denarii – a debt that can be repaid within the year – and demands that it be paid back in full immediately.

To the servant, mercy was shown.
But by him, it was not known
And because it was not known
To another, it could not be shown.
And because it could not be shown
In the end, the only thing to be known
Was pain and torture, which was shown

Brothers and sisters, like that servant, you and I owe a massive debt. It is a debt that we have no hope of repaying.

God has given us everything we have. He has given us life. He has given us our family and friends. He has given us our health. He has given us our skills, talents, food, water, and freedom. We can never repay him for what we have been given. All we have is gift.

In the words of Psalm 49:
For no man can buy his own ransom,
Or pay a price to God for his life.
The ransom of his soul is beyond him.
He cannot buy life without end,
Nor avoid coming to the grave.

In spite of the gift we have been given, we added to the debt we already owed God. We sinned against him. We spurned the gifts we’ve been given. With the first sin, death entered the world.

Paul tells us in the Letter to the Romans that:
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).

Death entered the world, and we owed a debt that could not be paid. But God himself paid it for us. He sent his Son in to the world to pay the debt that we ourselves could not pay. That’s the Good News of the Gospel!  Yes, the wages of sin is death, but that’s only the first half of the sentence.  The verse from Romans continues:

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Christ has set us free. Christ has paid the debt. It is a double gift. First, the gift of life and everything we have and are. Second, redemption of the gift which we spurned with our sins.

Do we accept the gift we’ve been given?

Do we accept the mercy offered by God every day?

Or, like the servant in today’s Gospel, do we spurn the gift, foolishly trying to pay back a debt that we are unable to repay, frantically trying to take care of it ourselves rather than accepting the gift we’ve been given?

All that God asks of us is to be merciful with each other as he has been merciful to us. But until we know the mercy that he has shown us, we will not be able to show it to others.

You have to know His mercy to show His mercy.

Do you know His mercy?

How long has it been since you’ve been to Confession?

You have to know His mercy to show His mercy.

Realize the magnitude of the gift that is offered to you, and accept it. Accept it, and you will be amazed how easy it becomes to forgive others their faults, when you realize how much you yourself have been forgiven.

To you, his servant, mercy is shown.
If by you, it could only be known…
To another, how easily it could be shown!
And if it could be shown
In the end, the only thing to be known
Is the gift of eternal life, which will be shown.

 

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