MARCH 9. LENT. WK. 3. LENT. MT. 18. 21-35
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.’
Christian’s need to be extremely grateful for the teachings of today’s Gospel as it reveals a divine truth we are all going to be dependent on at our time of death; - namely the Merciful Love of Jesus Christ; - our Saviour and Redeemer.
Few of us enjoy acknowledging we are sinners, but one aspect of our judgement that we will have to deal with; - and it cannot be avoided; - is the Truth!
Fortunately, what Christ is teaching us today is that there is no limit to the number of times God is prepared to show us his Mercy and Love!
But there is a second revelation in this reading that is even more important, and that is that in order to receive God’s Merciful Love, we first have to show mercy ourselves to others!
This is an important teaching that we tend to “overlook” as it demands a generous and loving heart from us; - something that does not come easy because of our tendency to judge others.
The first servant in today’s reading illustrated this tendency beautifully, in that is primary concern was to look after his own interests; - and do we not do this ourselves; - frequently?
And what is also revealed is a total lack of concern, or compassion, for his fellow servant; - and how many of us can plead “not guilty” to this type of failure?
The third teaching of this Gospel is probably the most important of all, namely what will happen at our judgement if we fail to heed this message!
What we are being told, in essence, is that if we fail to show mercy to others, that God will not show mercy to us; - and how many of us will be prepared to argue that view to be unjust?