Fr. Mike’s Homily for Monday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Fr. Mike’s Homily for Monday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Theme: God’s love and forgiveness

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

Homily for Monday November 8 2021

Lk 17:1-6

He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

The Gospel today contains three separate sayings of Jesus. The first is on the inevitability of scandals. The word ‘scandal’ comes from the Greek word ‘skandalon’ (snare or stumbling block) and from the Latin ‘scandalum’ (‘cause of offense’). Scandals, therefore, are those actions or words which cause people to stumble or fall into sin. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, to give scandal is to be responsible for another’s failure or spiritual ruin because of one’s words, acts or omissions (ST, 2-2, q. 43, a. 1).

In the context of the Gospel, however, scandal is not just about enticing people to do something wrong or evil. Rather, it is more of an attempt to draw them away from God, such as by preventing them from serving God (Mk 9:38) or hindering them from coming to Jesus (Mk 10:13-16).

Jesus admits that these things are inevitable. But He warns those responsible for the scandal: “It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” If it is bad to commit sin, it is worse when that sin also leads others, especially the children and the ‘little ones’, to sin. Yet, the worst is when the person prevents some people from following and loving Christ and His teachings. So, He gives a stern warning to His disciples: “Be on your guard!”

The second saying is about forgiveness and reconciliation. The Lord reminds His followers of the duty to correct an erring brother or sister. Forgiveness has to be granted when there is sincere repentance. This is so even if the same offence is committed any number of times, provided there is true sorrow expressed each time.

However, in the case of a person who is not in control of himself, such as an alcoholic, a drug dependent, a sex abuser or struggling with some other compulsive behavior, forgiveness may be an exercise in futility. It should, therefore, be accompanied by some concrete effort and action towards healing and rehabilitation. We do this because, as Christians, our actions must be geared towards reconciliation and salvation, not judgment and condemnation. This is in imitation of the merciful and forgiving heart of the Lord.

And the third saying is about faith. The apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith. Seen in the context of the first two sayings, faith is an essential element in bringing people to conversion and forgiveness. Our human powers can only go so far in our efforts to touch the hearts of sinners. It is God alone who can change hardened hearts; we are just His instruments. And to be effective instruments, we need to have strong faith in the power of His love and forgiveness. If faith can move mountains, it can also move hearts and souls closer to God.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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