Gospel – March 17, 2020 – Matthew 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.”
If you have a chance, go back and reread the daily Gospels of the past few days. What is the single biggest theme?
If you haven’t been reading them daily I again invite you to go to USCCB.org/bible/readings and you can read every day’s Gospel. It’s where I go before I post these reflections.
Anyhow, the theme is FORGIVENESS. Beautiful parables and lessons being taught by Jesus.
Is it any surprise then that today Peter is wondering just how many times he must forgive someone? Especially when that someone continues to offend time and again?
I actually think I’ve gotten really good and forgiving over time. I was pretty capable early on of carrying a grudge when someone hurt me. Not so much any longer. I can forgive and I can forgive a second time and a third and maybe a fourth if I really love you. But at some point most of us say – enough is enough.
But what does Jesus say? Peter says seven times? That was a lot to Peter, a simple fisherman, and honestly that seems quite a lot to me.
But Jesus gives him this surreal number – seventy-seven. That’s like an unattainable number, right? So, in other words, Jesus is saying you must always forgive. You can never hold something against someone.
That means, you forgive you must let it go. You cannot hold it in reserve to use as a hammer in a future disagreement.
You might be angry for a moment. You might never trust them again.
But you must always forgive.
At least that’s what I heard Him say…