The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.09.16
Forgive, be merciful.
Forget every word in this passage except these:
Do not settle on merely forgiving someone seven times, but forgive them seventy-seven times.
Do not place limits on your mercy.
If it is your power to forgive someone, forgive them.
Forgive your sister and brother, your father and mother, your neighbor, the stranger, even the one who persecuted you.
Forgive them from your heart.
Do not be like the servant who receives mercy, and then refuses to be merciful.
Do not be like Peter who time and time again failed to understand the teaching of Jesus.
The writers of Matthew’s Gospel remembered to articulate the endless bounty of Jesus’ compassion. They remembered this and placed that at the beginning of this passage.
Forgive the wrongdoer, Jesus said, not once, not twice, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
They remembered this and then quickly drafted a parable in which the principle actor fails to follow suit, forgiving his servant once, but not a second time.
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.’
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time