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A Gospel according to Matthew 18:21 - 19:1

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 the fellow servant 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.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

REFLECTION: " “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."

In Hispanic culture we have a saying: "I forgive, but don't forget".

A practical example of this behavior would be the wife who"forgives" the husband for whatever he has done to her, but only to be reminded of his misbehaving over and over and over, year after year. Like a hen, pecking him to [spiritual] death.

I don't think this is what God means about forgiving. If any, it makes the person that initially did a wrong to us more mad as time goes by.

So then what?

There is an anecdote of St. Claude de la Colombiere, and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. They both lived in 17th century France.

Jesus had appeared to St. Margaret Mary, and had revealed and encouraged her to the devotion of His Sacred Heart.

On their first encounter, St. Mary Margaret approached St. Claude, and told him about Jesus, and how He had indicated to her to have Father Claude as her spiritual director.

Of course Father Claude was skeptical. So as a test, he requested this to Sister Margaret Mary:"Okay. If Jesus appears to you again, you go back and ask him what the last mortal sin was that I confessed. If you can tell me that, then I’ll be your spiritual director."

As it turned out, Jesus did appear to St. Margaret Mary again. And she relayed the message from St. Claude.

Jesus simply looked at her and said these 3 words:

"I don't remember."

After that, St. Claude became her spiritual director. He helped St. Margaret Mary promote the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In this Gospel we read how the King forgives a servant a great debt. But in return the servant cannot forgive his equal. And the King punished the ungrateful servant for his lack of mercy.

It is really hard for me to stop being mad at someone, and contemplate my own sin first.

Many of us have been truly hurt by others. And in a way I could say my being angry at a certain person or persons is completely reasonable because of the injustice done to me.

But staying angry at that person only creates interior chaos. Pain. And there is more anger towards others that might be innocent.

So I ask the Lord to take this anger, this resentment, this pain.

Slowly, through time, He has helped me heal. And forgive. And forget. But this is only when I truly surrender the pain of the injustice to Him.

Justice is not a bad thing. But if we keep insisting in always receiving justice, even for the smallest of acts done to us, then we must remember that we will also receive justice towards us.

On the same token, if we are merciful, mercy will be granted to us. (Mt. 5:7)

Will we allow Jesus' Mercy to envelop us or will we keep pecking each other until we reach [spiritual] death?


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