(Mt 18, 21-35)
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 him 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 your brother from your heart.”
Why Forgive ?
Our constant prayer is always “Lord, have mercy on me!” This is the substance of the prayer of Azariah in the book of Daniel in our first reading. The book of Proverbs tells us: “For the righteous man falls seven times (Proverbs 24, 16)”. We have to always remember that we need to be forgiven. Daily! So we also way the “Our Father” and daily pray for forgiveness.
The parable of the unforgiving servant in the Gospel of today reminds us that our God forgives us our trespasses over and over. In the Latin translation of the Our Father we beg forgiveness for our “debts”. The parable tells us that our “debt”, our “utang” is so astronomically unpayable so the Lord simply forgives us! And so, as we have been forgiven so much, so we must in turn be forgiving of the miniscule offenses of our fellow servant. The parable reminds us that the greatest ingratitude to our merciful God that we can commit is to be unforgiving of “debts” of our fellow sinners.
The warning of the Lord is very clear! Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Refuse to forgive, and you may in turn be refused forgiveness! Are you ready to forgive?