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The parable of the unmerciful servant ends tragically. Let’s give it a happy ending. The master wanted to throw the servant in prison: the servant pleaded and begged the master to give him more time, “I will pay back the debt.” Out of compassion, the master released him and forgave the debt. The servant, free of his burden, came upon a neighbor who owed him a mere fraction of what the servant owed his master. The neighbor pleaded, “Please give me more time, and I will pay back what I owe you.” The servant said, “I don’t want your money.” The neighbor said, “Why not?” The servant replied, “Because I don’t need it anymore. I’m not in debt.” The neighbor was so happy that he went to his friend’s home and knocked on the door. When the friend opened the door, the neighbor said, “I don’t want your money anymore.” “Why not,” was the reply. “I don’t need it anymore because I am no longer in debt.” Then the whole world no longer says, “Pay me back.” Instead, the world now says, “I forgive your debt.”
What does this parable mean? God wants to transform the world. The only way God will do this is if we imitate Christ. And there are lots of opportunities for us to imitate Christ every day. I was waiting at a red light in heavy traffic. A guy was nosing his car out from the side street, so I let him cut in front of me. The light turned green, but we didn’t move because he was reading his text. When he finally looked up and saw the green light, and he gunned it. He just made the light. I didn’t. While I am waiting, I start thinking that I could have made the light if I didn’t let that guy in front of me go. I am glad, however, I cut the guy a break. A few months after 9/11, I had to fly to Pittsburg. Before going through security, I got a bagel at Dunkin’ Donuts. I took my bagel bag and brought it to security. They found a plastic knife in the bag. “Why,” I ask, “did the clerk put a plastic knife in the bag with the bagel right after 9/11”? The security people were not happy. They let me fly out, but they confiscated my bagel. There I am waiting to board the plane thinking, “It would be nice to have a bagel.” I cut the guy a break.
One evening I was on call for the hospitals: A nurse called me at 2:00 AM. She said, “We need a priest. Hurry!” I jumped out of bed, put on my shoes, grabbed my coat and got to the hospital. When I arrived at the patient’s room, the nurse said, “The doctor is doing a procedure. Go to the waiting room, and I will call you.” I asked her, “How long is going to be?” She said, “It shouldn’t take more than a half an hour.” What do you do in the waiting room beside wait? You think. That is what I did for an hour and a half. I thought, “I could be in bed at this moment and she could have called me after the procedure is done.” I cut her a break.
The reason why I cut people a break is that I sometimes picture myself after death. There I am walking through the pearly gates into heaven. I see the beatific vision, angels singing and the saints clapping as I enter. I ask St. Peter, “How did I end up here?” St. Peter says, “Apparently, God cut you a few breaks.” Then I respond, “Why would He do that?” Peter says, “Do you remember the time you were called to the hospital and you had to wait in the waiting room and when the nurse came to get you, you were very nice to her?” I said, “Yes, I remember that.” Peter says to me, “Well, she noticed.” It’s true. About twelve hours later I was called back to that same unit, and that same nurse came over to me, and this is what she said, “I was hoping it was you, you’re the nicest priest.” I said to her, “Did you just come back on duty?” She said, “I never left.” I said, “You must be exhausted.” She said, “I love my job.” I responded, “So do I.”
Here is the faith lesson: You and I can transform the world. All we have to do is imitate Christ. Every day is an opportunity for greatness.Back to All Homilies