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.”( Matthew 18:21-35)
Ah, here it is again. Still another parable about forgiveness. Still another teaching/reflection/sermon on the subject. Why such an emphasis?
You and I actually know the answer to the question. Each of us has received God’s forgiveness. We can pass on only that which we have received. Having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and God’s people, we are then called to make it possible for others to experience it. Thus the circle of Christ’s love expands ever wider to encircle one more lost sheep—and another—and another.
The second aspect is that each of us is in a constant situation of needing to receive forgiveness as well as to give it. Forgiveness is a foundational block of the Christian community’s flow of life. In an imperfect world, each disciple is, at the same time, saint and sinner.
Forgiveness is like a powerful river flowing from the heart of God, that sweeps up everyone and everything in its path. God’s unconditional, forgiving love washes over sinners, gathers them up and carries them along in the same flow of forgiveness. For a sinner to refuse forgiveness to another requires that sinner to withdraw from the flow of forgiving love, to swim to the bank, as it were, and to stay there alone, cold and self-absorbed – out of the reach of God’s love.
We are also commanded to forgive because forgiveness is all about love. Remember, the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. There is no way to forgive without loving, and there is no way to love without forgiving. We are all fallen humans, full of sin, selfishness, and short-sightedness. If we want to stay together in fellowship, then we must learn to forgive. And if you are obeying God’s command to love him and his creation, then you know how to forgive.
Stop at this moment. Reflect on the hurts you have experienced. Understand that by holding on to them, you are still captive to them. Pray for the person(s) who hurt you. Forgive them deep within your heart. Thank them for this opportunity to learn how to love God with all of your soul and all of your heart.
Go in peace knowing that your forgiveness has grown His circle of love even wider. Know also that your ability to forgive has healed a part of you.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love. Where there is injury let me sow pardon. Where there is doubt let me sow faith. Where there is despair let me give hope. Where there is darkness let me give light. Where there is sadness let me give joy.” (Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226)
God has made his peace with us. Have you made your peace with God? If you believe and accept God’s love and pardon for you, then you likewise must choose to be merciful towards those who are in debt to you. Are you ready to forgive and to make peace with your neighbor as God has made peace with you?