SEPTEMBER 11, 2011 24TH SUNDAY : SIRACH 27:30-28:7 ; ROMANS 14:7-9 ; MT 18:21-35


NONE OF US LIVES FOR ONESELF, FOR IF WE LIVE WE LIVE FOR THE LORD.   Holy Scripture speaks to us at many levels. One result of this characteristic is that we hear in the inspired words what the dispositions of our heart and the state of our mind dispose us to understand and inspire us, by God’s grace, to put into practice. The words just cited from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans are a palmary instance in illustration of this feature of the word of God. What does it mean to you to hear that if you truly live, you no longer live for yourself; you are alive even now, to live for the Lord!


Really to hear this assertion requires that each one of us must look into the hidden places deep within our inmost self. The secret place of the heart, hidden from all save God himself; in large measure even concealed from our own self. For the motives that in practice influence our life are commonly subtle and escape our notice. They have a tendency to be subject to influences that arise from moment to moment, from one encounter to another. Events and persons so readily enter into our lives as we move from one situation into a fresh exchange with our surroundings, whether interpersonal or situational that our immediate responses and decision are motivated in part, at least, by such transient events.


Yet, we are so constituted that, we, like nature itself, in much that we do, say, and decide, are motivated by various values and purposes acting simultaneously at different levels of our mind and heart. We can be pleasant in our dealings with another motivated by the desire to spread the happiness we enjoy that this person may profit from it. But we might, at the same time, intend to profit in some way or other from the good will such contact establishes. Motivation in human affairs is a powerful and ubiquitous factor. Not only what we do and how we act, but why, with what purpose and aim, contribute in large- indeed, in decisive ways- to what we become as persons. For our choices and actions influence our character and so contribute to what kind of a person we become.


Our Lord insisted repeatedly throughout his teaching ministry on the need for us to guard the inner workings of our life, to assure that our heart is properly motivated, and he saw with sharp-eyed clarity that the dispositions we bring to our dealings with others strongly colored our motives. In today’s Gospel we hear him stressing the need for a willingness to be generous in forgiving offences, to avoid holding grudges. Not to insist always on getting back from others what they owe us, not only in money affairs as in the example he gives today, but also in other matters. Elsewhere, he states explicitly the need to purify our heart from all selfish passion for only then can we hope to see God with the eyes of the Spirit. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”


Here at this altar today we thank God for revealing to us in His Son, Jesus, the way to work at fashioning our minds and hearts so that we grow toward this purity of the inner self so essential for entering the kingdom of God. We ask for the grace to respond from the heart to this teaching and example of our Lord so that, united with him whom we receive in communion, we might be numbered among the pure of heart and so enter into the presence of the all holy and merciful Father of lights, there to praise his glory for all eternity.& 

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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