In his recent homily for the twenty-third Sunday in ordinary time, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry called for a renewal in our attitudes towards forgiveness.

Bishop McKeown said, “Jesus always met people where they were, but he loved them too much to leave them where they were. The Samaritan woman at the well and Matthew the tax collector met someone who said that they could be forgiven for their past and take a better path. He told Peter that he had to be prepared to forgive 77 times. He told his apostles that they should forgive others as they had been forgiven.”

The Bishop of Derry emphasised, “It is easy to condemn and label. It is much harder to walk and work with the sinner who finds it hard to believe that things could be different. That takes time. We live in a culture that loves to condemn and never forgive. But condemnation without a radical offer of mercy and forgiveness is destructive.”

As the month of September is the Season of Creation, Bishop McKeown drew attention to a true Christian attitude towards climate justice. He said, “Pope Francis is keen that any emphasis on climate justice is in the context of love of God and of neighbour. He seeks to offer a unified picture of where selfishness and greed lead us. Pope Francis knows that the strong are happy when their opponents are condemned for their sins, but angry when a religious leader undermines the status quo that suits them very well.

“When Church loses it prophetic voice, when Church leaders fail to question the strong, when the little ones feel crushed under a weight of condemnation, when church leaders appear to support partisan politics rather than critique them, I suspect that Jesus would feel very uncomfortable.”

In conclusion, Bishop McKeown highlighted the importance of community within the Church. He said, “In this country we face the need to rediscover who we are as a community of faith in rapidly changing circumstances. Fragmentation into cliques is not the Jesus way forward.

“A fragmenting world will not see Jesus in a fractious church. Jesus challenged his disciples 2,000 years ago as he prepared to face Calvary out of love for the world. He still issues the same challenge to his disciples now.”

To read the full homily click here.

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