AUGUST 12. Ord Time B. Thu. Mt 18. 21- 19.1
Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.
‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’
Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and he left Galilee and came into the part of Judaea which is on the far side of the Jordan.
Christians must be grateful for the lesson contained within this Gospel reading in that Christ is telling us there is no limit to the merciful love of our creator. This is because we are all sinners so, at the end of our lives, when facing judgement, each of us will be totally dependent on the mercy and love of God!
If God is telling us, as creatures, and sinners, we have to forgive each other, no matter how often they have offended us, then we can be assured this same standard will apply to our own judgement; - even though our offences are against God, and we have done nothing to deserve his mercy and love.
But within the teaching, there is also a warning; - if we are to receive God’s mercy we must show mercy to those around us; - and who are we to argue with this teaching; - and who will claim, before God, it is an unreasonable demand?
The King in the parable represents God, while the man who owed ten thousand talents represents ourselves; - and we are begging for mercy (as we will be). The King listens to our request for mercy, and forgives our debt; - something we are very grateful for; - but what does this man then do on being forgiven; - he goes out and demands payment of a much smaller debt from his neighbour!
A beautiful illustration of Christ’s teaching that he wants us to heed. We are not going to receive God’s mercy and love if we do not show mercy and love to others!
“And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart!”
Gospel Acclamation Ps118:135
Let your face shine on your servant,
and teach me your laws.