Listen to podcast version here.
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
his brother from his heart."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, as
I prepare for the coming of Easter during this Lenten
season, I turn to you in prayer. You have been
merciful to me. Many times you have pardoned the great
debt I owe. I trust in your merciful love and
wish to transmit your love to many others faithfully. Here
I am, Lord, ready to learn from your tender heart.
Petition: Lord, enlighten me to your gift of mercy.
1. An Unpayable Debt: Peter asks Jesus how many times he
should forgive his brother. Jesus gives a short answer, telling
a parable to make sure his answer is understood. In
the parable God is the king, and we are all
the servants who owe the king a huge amount. We
are all in debt to God. He created us and
keeps us in existence and gives us every good thing
we have, every talent and virtue. We owe God everything.
He owes us nothing. Do my daily thoughts and actions
reflect this truth?
2. The Forgiving King: The servant, not
being able to pay, falls to his knees and begs
for more time so that he can pay back the
debt. The king offers him more than just time –
he pardons the entire debt. God is generous. When we
turn to him and ask for forgiveness, he offers us
much more than we could hope for – he pardons
our entire debt. Then why, we might ask, does the
king settle accounts with his servant if he is so
generous? Why not pardon the debt from the beginning instead
of ordering him along with his wife and children to
be sold? He calls the servant to account so that
the servant will realize how much he owes and in
realizing this, he might imitate God when dealing with his
fellow-worker. God does not want us to be punished for
our sins. He desires to forgive us the great debt
we owe him, but he calls us to account for
our sins in the hope that we will recognize how
much we have both received from him and owe to
him and thus will ask for forgiveness.
Treatment and Abuse of Freedom: After being pardoned, the servant does
not treat his debtor in the same merciful manner. He
sends him to prison. He had every right to do
so. In justice, his fellow servant owed him money; but
in doing so he abuses the liberty that he has
just been given. He does not stop to reflect that
in this moment he himself should rightly be in slavery,
sold along with his wife and children in order to
pay his debt. He does not reflect that he is
able to confront his fellow servant only because the king
has had pity on him in the first place, giving
him liberty. The offenses we suffer from our fellow men
are real offenses, but before we demand justice we must
stop and reflect that it is only because God has
forgiven us our sins that we have the liberty to
demand reparation from our fellow men. That reflection must lead
us to have the same mercy with our fellow men
that God has had with us.
Conversation with Christ: Lord
thank you for this time of prayer. I must recognize
that you have been merciful with me and forgiven me
the great debt I owe. Thank you for the many
times you have given me a second chance. During this
time of Lent, help me to practice mercy toward those
who owe or offend me.
Resolution: I will think of
someone who has offended me and say a prayer asking
God to help me forgive them.