Daily Reflection – 8/17/2023
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)
Today’s Gospel is one of those “double gulp” moments for most people who profess to follow Christ.It’s all about forgiveness . . . a concept we understand but find it hard to live out.In this parable, Jesus gives us the secret to forming a patient, forgiving heart. It consists in recognizing the immense evil of our own sin, and thereby perceiving the vastness of God’s goodness in forgiving it. Until we do that, we will never grasp how generous his forgiveness really is. Why?Forgiveness, on its most basic level, is a letting go. It is both psychological and social; it happens both internally within ourselves and externally as we engage with other people.Forgiveness is freeing, for more than just the one who might receive it. It is freeing for the one who does the forgiving.Forgiveness calls for a release of those things that bind us. This is what makes it such a theologically important concept – when we let go of that resentment and anger and relinquish the grudges we have, we open up space – space to experience all of the other emotions present in our lives; space to experience grief if we need to grieve, joy and hope the in promises of a brighter tomorrow, and time to work through other things that prevent us from living the lives God intends for us. Most of all, forgiveness offers us the space to experience God’s grace and love more fully.Our Lord’s point is that it’s only when we find the motivation to forgive those who have sinned against us only when we realize how much more it has cost God to forgive us. He gave his only Son to die on the cross that our sins might be forgiven. Against that measure, can we do any less?When we truly forgive, God gives new life to our relationship with Him and one another by allowing us to participate in the spreading of divine grace and forgiveness to one another. . . to love as he loves, pardon as he pardons, and treat each other with the same mercy and kindness he has shown to us.Forgiveness proclaims that mercy is what will define us.
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)”
This is what Jesus teaches us about forgiveness: first, asking forgiveness is not a simple apology, it is to be aware of the sin, of the idolatry that I have committed, of the many idolatries; second, God always forgives, always – but He asks me to forgive [others]. If I do not forgive, in a sense, I close the door to God’s forgiveness. ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’”