Forgiveness: The Only Option
Malvern Minute

 

August 17, 2017 – Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Let your countenance shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes. Alleluia!

Mark J. Poletunow, Malvern President (mpoletunow@malvernretreat.com)

Click for: Readings for the day (From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops)

A reading from the holy 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.

 

Reflect: So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart. Jesus’ message hits hard in reminding us about the seriousness of forgiveness and reconciliation. He answers Peter about the quotient for forgiveness: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” At the same time, through the parable in today’s gospel, Jesus illustrates the impact and consequence of not forgiving and taking forgiveness for granted. The servant in the gospel was pleading for mercy from his master. He received a reprieve, but failed to forgive someone else who owed him a much smaller amount. Perhaps we can be cavalier about forgiveness and diminish the importance of being reconciled with another. Perhaps we find ourselves holding on to grudges, digging in our heels and refusing to extend an olive branch to someone we feel has offended us. Perhaps we won’t forgive until another admits their wrong to us; and, even then, we resist forgiving the other. One powerful lesson from today’s gospel is that the lack of forgiveness kills – us. It destroys our soul; it eats away at the core of our being. Failing to forgive is like putting ourselves in a prison. At the same time, the more we forgive, the more we avail ourselves to the love and mercy of God, the more that we will experience the healing balm that the grace of forgiveness brings. Forgiveness is tough. It is one of those actions in life that requires us to be all-in. At the same time, forgiveness and reconciliation are never possible apart from the grace of God. Left alone, we don’t have the strength to forgive. Turning to Jesus, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, however, makes forgiveness and reconciliation possible. It is only possible with him. If we want to walk with Jesus, we have no other option: we must forgive those who trespass against us as our God forgives us our sins. Let us forgive, before it is too late.

Questions: Am I aware of the extent to which God forgives me – even for great offenses against him and his Body? What restrains me from forgiving another? Is there someone that I need to reach out to today with whom I need to begin the process of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing?

Pray: Loving God, you are quick to forgive and generous in showing me mercy. Give me the grace to forgive and to be reconciled with those who have offended me.  I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.

Holy God; Holy and Mighty One; Holy and Immortal One: Have mercy on me and on the whole world.

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