September 17, 2017: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? 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 your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)
This Gospel parable compares divine and human forgiveness.
The owner of the servant (God) forgave the servant a huge debt after the servant begged for mercy. That same servant (human to the core) had barely left the owner’s presence when he searched out someone who owed him a meager amount, by comparison, and not only refused him forgiveness, but had him imprisoned. How soon we forget!
When I am tempted this week to treat others unkindly or in an unforgiving way, let me take a moment to reflect on the abundance of God’s mercy and forgiveness in my regard and ask God to help me change my attitude.