Sept. 17, 2017 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
The question is put to Jesus, “How much should I forgive?”
But Jesus doesn’t answer with an amount. Jesus answers with a story.
In the story, the master or king mercifully cancels a great debt but later learns that the forgiven servant has been cruelly unforgiving in cancelling a much smaller debt.
The servant is not a slave but rather, an employee or a manager in the king’s court, if you will. And the debt is incurred through some sort of mismanagement.
It is a story about one who is powerful and others who are not. But notice, if you will, it is the powerful one who forgives and the weak one who does not.
If we are paying attention to Jesus’ story, then we learn that to forgive is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
Forgiveness is not about feeling. Forgiveness is about doing. Forgiveness is an act of pardoning a wrong or cancelling a debt so that the hating can stop, so that the resentment can end. Forgiveness is an act of the will.
I will forgive you. I will release you from this debt. I will let go of this hurt. I will move on. I will be strong. I will not be weak.
Why do this? Listen to what Sirach says if we don’t.
Can you cherish anger and resentment and then ask for your sins to be forgiven? Can you withhold forgiveness and then ask for your sins to be forgiven?
Can you be angry and still expect the Lord to send you healing? Can you nurse grudges with wrath in your heart and still seek pardon for your sins?
The sinner hugs wrath and angry tightly. Are we holding some debt? Are we holding some grudge? Do we need to forgive someone?
The parable warns us of the awfulness of failing to forgive as God forgives.
The most important reason for showing mercy time and time again is because this is how God forgives us.
If we are forgiven much then we should certainly forgive much in return.
The difference between Peter’s proposal of seven times and Jesus parable is not a matter of math. It is the nature of forgiveness. To count is not to forgive. To forgive is not to count.
How often must I forgive? Always, because that is how often God has forgiven me.