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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Reflection 2020-08-13 Thursday 19th Week in Ordinary Time – St Pontian and Hippolytus

Ezekiel 12:1-16; Psalm 78; Matthew 18:21-19:1
The First Reading speaks of the disaster that will happen to Jerusalem because the people have eyes to see but do not see, who have ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house. Their rebellion resulted in God leaving them to fend for themselves. To emphasize this, God commanded Ezekiel to act out what will happen to them: they will be exiled and their king will dig a hole through the wall but will not be able to see the land with his eyes and will die in Babylon. All these happened when Jerusalem fell. The result of rejection of God is destruction and death because rejection of God is rejection of life.
This should not let us think that God is someone who waits for us to make a mistake to punish us. God is patient and merciful. Jesus showed this when Peter asked him how many times he should forgive. Jesus said seventy-seven times. The number seventy-seven is a symbolic number meaning fullness. Jesus then gave a parable of a slave whose huge debt was forgiven by his master when the slave begged for forgiveness. But when he met a fellow slave who owed him a much smaller amount, he demanded the debtor slave to pay the whole amount immediately and threw the debtor in jail until he paid up. When the lord heard this, he threw the slave who owed a huge debt to prison to be tortured until he pays his entire debt. This happened even after the lord forgave his debt.
When the lord forgave the first slave, the lord did not forget he forgave the slave. The Lord used the forgiveness of debt as his reason for demanding the slave to forgive the debt of the other slave.
We often hear people tell us to forgive and forget. Forgiveness does not mean we forget what was done. It means we forego what is due to us. We will not ask for payment. But this does not mean we will forget what was done to us and let people walk over us. When Jesus died on the Cross, he said Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Jesus gave forgiveness unconditionally. But people need to respond to this forgiveness by admitting their faults. If there is no admission of guilt, there is no forgiveness. God’s mercy is give to those who ask. Therefore, those who do not ask will not be forgiven.
Hippolitus was a theologian in the 3rd century and he objected when Pope Calixtus gave absolution to Christians who committed grave sins. Hippolytus allowed himself to be elected as a rival to the Bishop of Rome and continued to attack the successor of Pope Calixtus: Pope Urban I and Pope Pontian. When Pope Pontian was imprisoned and sent to the mines of Sardinia, Hippolytus was also imprisoned there. Hippolytus reconciled with Pope Pontian and submitted to the Pontian. This is the fullness of forgiveness Jesus mentions: that when people repent, we accept them back. We do not demand payment for what was done. Hippolytus is said to be the author of the prayer used as basis of our Eucharistic Prayer II at mass.
Lord, many have hurt me and I still feel anger towards them. Help me Lord to forgive them, not demand payment for what they did. I release them Lord for what they had done to me and I pray you will bless them abundantly. Forgive me for my sins as I forgive others. St Pontian and Hippolytus, help me to be reconciled with God and those who have hurt me. Let me be faithful to the Lord and find healing in Jesus and in sacrament of Confession.

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