Fr Bob Writes – October 1, 2017

Last Sunday’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah reminded us that “God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.”  Perhaps many of us, myself included have questioned God’s ways at times in our lives.  The people in the prophet Ezekiel’s time certainly did, as our first reading this Sunday tells us ” The Lord’s way is not fair!” they complained.

Why? Because Ezekiel had relayed to them a word from the Lord regarding a previous common belief that children share in the guilt and punishment for the sins of their parents and vice versa.  The lesson makes it clear that God will not punish anyone for the sins of another.”  I will judge you each one according to his ways” (18:30). Within that teaching is given the message of complete forgiveness for the sinner who turns away from sins to lead a virtuous life.  “None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him” (18:22).

We are reminded again that God is so much more gracious and merciful than we are, so much more willing to pardon offenses than we.  Instead of complaining about the Lord’s generosity, perhaps I should question why we are so unwilling to follow his example?

Fr Bob Writes – September 24, 2017

One of my first parishes was based in a very Irish area in North London, England. It was very common at that time for young men looking for construction jobs, to wait around in the town centre, until a truck stopped and a manager chose a dozen or so for work that day.

This scenario is very close to that described by Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel parable. Obviously, the men chosen first for work would have been the fittest and strongest. Imagine how you would feel if you didn’t get chosen for work day after day because of some weakness and disability.

The point Jesus is making in this parable is that recruitment for work in the Kingdom of God is based on very different criteria than the world. As far as God is concerned, the only qualification is willingness. It doesn’t matter to God if you suffer from physical, mental, emotional or spiritual disabilities. He still wants to use you for the work of spreading the gospel and building up the Kingdom of God.

Another point is equally important. The “wage” for doing the Lord’s work is life in heaven. There is nothing greater good this. It doesn’t matter whether you have been working for the Lord for thirty years or thirty minutes (remember the good thief on the cross besides the dying Christ?) You can’t receive more than one gift of eternal life, no matter how many years you have been in the Lord’s service!

Fr Bob Writes – September 17, 2017

Our Gospel today gives a clear self-explanatory presentation of the Christian teaching on forgiveness.  Beginning with God’s treatment of us, Jesus makes an appeal for a similar Spirit of mercy among his followers.  To Peter’s question of how often forgiveness should be extended, Jesus responds that it should be without limit.  Seven is a perfect number; it’s multiples express the incalculable, seventy-seven times pointing to forgiveness that cannot be limited to a certain number of times.

The figure owed by the slave to the king is deliberately fantastic, amounting to the equivalent of $9 million, as opposed to the mere $200 owed to the slave by his fellow slave.  The former is the recipient of pardon for hugely more than he is owed, therefore his spirit should be magnanimous because of his own experience.  The implication for us as Christians is clear.  Given the fact that we have already received God’s forgiveness through baptism and countless other moments in life, we are in a unique position to offer that same spirit to others.  Are there people we are holding back from forgiving, demanding judgement by God on them, while we ask mercy from God for ourselves?