THURSDAY, NINETEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Jos 3:7-11, 13-17; Ps 114:1-6; Mt 18:21 – 19:1
JUSTICE AND FORGIVENESS
Humanly speaking, one of the most difficult things to do is to forgive someone. When a person hurts you often, provokes you, again and again, disturbs you continuously, how can it be possible to forgive him or her! Thus, Peter asks Jesus a very reasonable question: “How often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?” From the viewpoint of the Jewish standards, Peter had already raised the bar enormously high, concerning letting go of the wrong done by the other, showing great patience and generosity. But then, the standards of Jesus were not the standards of man, but of God: “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times”, i.e., without limit and beyond measure and count. He then illustrates this through the parable of the unforgiving servant. While the master cancelled (forgave) the huge debt of his servant, that servant was not ready to cancel (forgive) the small debt of his fellow servant.
Where then is justice? Imagine the number of sins that we commit each day, the number of ways we offend God, and the number of times we plead for his mercy. And God generously forgives. He does not keep count – neither seven nor seventy seven. We, on the other hand, find it so difficult to forgive our brother or sister for a wrong done to us. Where then is justice? We need to realize that we seek mercy when we plead forgiveness for our many sins, yet fail to forgive our brothers and sisters. If we desire to experience the unconditional forgiveness of our Father in heaven which is always available, we must be the imitators of him who forgives us. Our unwillingness to forgive others becomes a block for us to receive the forgiveness God extends to us. In the prayer Our Father, we pray, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us”. Let us try to mean what we pray each time we do so during the day.
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