Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Mt 18: 21 – 19: 1
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
LIMITLESS FORGIVENESS: God’s work is based on His ability and desire to forgive our sins. The passage of the children of Israel to Canaan by crossing Jordan is a show of God’s limitless forgiveness. Despite the hardness of their heart and the many mistakes they had done, God did not count against them and did not revoke his promise to them. In the same way, when we believe in Jesus, we are forgiven of all our sins and we pass from death to life as we begin to realize that there is no limit to the mercy of God. However, forgiving others is the condition without which we cannot be forgiven. Un-forgiveness results in torments and suffering as we hope to punish those who offended us. As Nelson Mandela said un-forgiveness is like taking poison hopping your offender will die.
PRAYER: God give us the grace to forgive.
FORGIVING FROM THE HEART: As God is merciful, so should we be, though His mercy to us is much more than what we can ever offer. In a show of mercy, Jesus died for us, paying for our debt and reconciling us to the Father, “We are bought by high price” (1Cor 6:20). Peter also reminds us, “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed”(1 Pet 1:18). Despite this, we often fail to fathom the depth of God’s mercy; when it is our turn to be merciful, we strangle our debtors. Let us remember, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Never put an upper margin when it comes to forgiving others; seventy times seven – with the same person! To forgive and delete the disturbing memories of injustice and abuses is a favour given to ourselves too. It is liberating and healing to let go our desire to revenge. It is said, “All disease comes from a state of forgiveness.” Let us remember what Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”