OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Jesus tells a dramatic story in the Gospel, to make a very important point: the desperate need in our world for forgiveness and reconciliation. How many chances do we give each other? As many as seven? How often do we shut doors on people, even family and friends, saying “That’s it; you’ve just gone too far this time: never again”? When Jesus says that we must forgive ‘seventy-seven’ times, he implies that we never stop forgiving, whatever happens. He doesn’t just say this, however: even when they do the worst thing that could be done to him, nailing him to a cross, Jesus puts these words into practice: “Father, forgive them...”  As his disciples, we must do likewise.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Ecclesiasticus 27:30 - 28:7.
 
This is a remarkable reading - almost like a Shakespearean soliloquy in its power and intensity ! There is a strange darkness of tone in the reading, through which comes a great light - the light of forgiveness. This is very much a ‘mood’ reading - which you will have to get into. The author has obviously witnessed the results of grudges, resentments and lingering senses of injury, and has seen the destruction they cause. The first four lines are very dark - almost growling: the words ‘...these are foul things’ are quite surprising in their power, especially in church on a Sunday morning: use them ! But then there is the light, the pleading of lines 5 and 6: ‘Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you...’. Then we have an appeal to reason, with three rhetorical questions: pause after each one, to allow people to think of the answer. Then the most dramatic, poetic section is the last four lines, each beginning with the word ‘Remember...’: be as dramatic as you like with these, addressing them to the people sitting in front of you. They are a clarion-call to all men and women of goodwill, and the repeated ‘remember’ gives this passage a tremendous emphasis. Also realise what the last three words are saying: ‘overlook the offence’: you can drop your voice for these, to a tender pleading, a desperate appeal, calling people to leave vengeance to those who do not know God. This is one of the finest passages of scripture that appear in the Lectionary: prepare and proclaim it as well as you can.
 
Second Reading: Romans 14:7-9.
 
As if realising the intensity of the first reading, this is brief and to the point: after the resurrection of Christ from the dead, both life and death are equally significant. Jesus has changed death, from an emptiness to something filled with the hope of glory. So we belong to him, whether we are alive or dead. Take this reading slowly, and in a matter of fact way, allowing the simple point to come across.

From the Catechism

CCC 218-221
God is love

CCC 294
God manifests his glory by sharing his goodness

CCC 2838-2845
“forgive us our trespasses”

CCC 218 - 221
In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love. And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins. God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother's for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." God's love is "everlasting": "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you." Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." But St. John goes even further when he affirms that "God is love": God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.

Gospel Wordsearch