Every Time – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily September 12, 2020

“In our readings this weekend in Sirach and in the Gospel it talks about anger, anger and forgiveness, but the main thing that stood out for me in the first reading was the first line. It says, ‘Wrath and anger are hateful things, but us sinners we tend to hug them close.’ and isn’t that true? Wrath and anger are hateful things and we know it, but we tend to hold on to them. We tend to hold on to our anger and resentments in our lives. It happens to all of us in different ways. Family members, a family feud that lasts for years, holding on to that resentment, something an event that happened so long ago, maybe someone cut you off or wronged you in some way that they don’t know and you go home and you hold on to that resentment, that anger, it happens not only individually, but in a national way, a global way, generationally. Think about the feuds of certain nationalities like the Irish and the english, like maybe the Koreans and Japan. There’s different ones where generationally it’s passed down this resentment, this anger, but why? Why do we hold on to that? Well first, what is anger? St. Thomas Aquinas says that anger is a passion for revenge that outdoes the will of the person. A passion for revenge, there’s a healthy anger, an anger for justice, making things right, you can see that in Martin Luther King fighting for justice or even Jesus flipping the tables in the temple, so there is a certain anger that is justified, but there is an anger when it’s no longer for justice, justified, make things right, but it’s a passion for revenge, a destruction, a separating. One clear image for that for me in our lives today has been peaceful protests is a justified anger, but loitering and destroying property has gone past trying to reconcile things. That’s kind of an image that I had of our times today, but if we all sometimes hold on to anger and resentments as sinners then what is the cure? The cure is what we hear in the Gospel today. Peter asks Jesus, ‘How many times should I forgive? Should I forgive seven times?’ He says, ‘No, seventy-seven times.’ or seventy times seven means every single time you forgive. Not just many times, but every time because we’re not saved on our own, we’re saved together. I think it was last week or a few weeks ago where it talks about how Jesus says that what you bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven and what you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven and in the scriptures today it shows that it connects our forgiveness from God with how we forgive others in our lives. Are you holding on to any anger or resentment in your life? Actually at this moment I want you to think and I know you can all do it because I can think of some for myself, where is a relationship that maybe you’re holding on to resentment or anger in your life right now and what can you do with it? It is difficult to get rid of, but Christ is calling us to something greater and it’s through our relationship with God that we have the grace to do it, but it’s only if we’re willing to come to Him. Our greatest example of forgiveness is the cross. When Jesus is on the cross he says, ‘Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.’ But it’s only if we are willing to forgive that we’re able to receive the forgiveness of God, so how do we do that? Well, we bring it to the Lord in the sacrifice of the Mass. If we know it’s toxic for us, why not sacrifice it, burn off that dead wood and it’s through the Mass, actually it’s after this part of the homily where we prepare the altar, we bring the gifts forward and that’s the time to bring your sacrifice, what you’re willing to sacrifice. It’s no coincidence that the Eucharist itself is a food because it’s through our very own sacrifice that we join with Jesus’ sacrifice and then we consume his body and blood as food, spiritual food to nurture and sustain us so that we can have the courage when we leave here to live in that way to actually do the action of forgiveness and that’s what we do. We come here with our sins. We ask for forgiveness, but then we ask for the strength and the grace from God, especially through the Eucharist so that when we leave we don’t leave on our own, but we leave with the grace and the forgiveness of god in our hearts so that we can loosen the bonds of others so that we can participate in the forgiveness of God that we’ve received ourselves, but it’s only if we are willing to burn off that dead wood to bring our sacrifices to the altar. So as you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you in the Eucharist let us ask him for the strength and the courage to let go of whatever anger resentments we’re holding on to that we know we need to let go of to give it over to the Lord so that receiving him in our lives we can start to love others as he has loved us. Amen.”