To help us reflect on the theme of forgiveness from this week’s Mass readings, we feature Tuesday’s Gospel reading from Matthew followed by a short meditation.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Mt 18:21-35).
Here is a reading about forgiveness from Minute Meditations for Lent, by Sr. Kathryn Hermes, FSP:
Forgiving another person means that we ourselves must be ready to change. The words may be easy to say: “I forgive you.”
The phrase seems to be an almost condescending wave of a magic wand…bestowing a fairy-godmother state of bliss on a relationship. But people can’t relate to fairy godmothers.
They can relate to struggling people like themselves. Being ready to forgive, therefore, means realizing that behind the other person’s offensive or socially problematic behavior is a cry asking to be heard, a pain from the past not dealt with, or a statement about the present not articulated. Forgiveness means I need to hear what is not being said, opening myself up to that truth. I need to allow the other person into my heart. It means acknowledging my own selfishness, anger, bitterness, negative attitudes and ways of thinking, and turning to Jesus to ask forgiveness.
Prayer: Lord, help me to forgive wholeheartedly.