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How Often Must I Forgive?
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
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 your brother from your heart.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I give you my distractions, my worries, and my cares and entrust them to you. Grant me the ability to forgive others so that I may live Christ-like patience and compassion in all of my relationships.
- Be Patient with Me: Jesus shows us through this parable that, like the master of this household, Jesus is “moved with compassion” when we ask him to be patient with us. When we give into our favorite “pet sins”–those things we know we shouldn’t do but can’t seem to stop doing–Jesus is patient. When we refuse to obey an inspiration of the Spirit, Jesus is patient. And, if we fall into grave sin, still, Jesus is patient, knowing that our spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. He is always nearby ready to forgive our sins.
- You Wicked Servant: May we never hear these words from the mouth of Our Lord! He gives us all the instruction we need through his word, imbues us with talents unique to our mission, forgives us–every single time we ask–and strengthens our resolve through the sacraments. By his grace and with his strength, each of us is capable of living according to his loving law, so that one day the words we hear will be, “Welcome to my father’s house, good and faithful servant.”
- Forgive Your Brother from Your Heart: What does Christian forgiveness demand of us? In order to forgive another, we need a heart open and willing to lean on God for grace and strength. As the adage says, “to err is human; to forgive, divine.” We can’t do it on our own, especially if the wound is deep and anger is still present. We are called to will good for the other, to forgive him or her repeatedly as best we can (sometimes every hour), and to trust that Our Lord’s peace will fill our hearts as we exercise this difficult divine obedience.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to be more like you. Help me to follow your teachings, your ways, and your example to have patience with others, especially those closest to me because, as you know, those closest can cause the greatest hurt. Help me to forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will exercise patience with others today and reflect on the fruits at the end of the day during my evening examen.
For Further Reflection: Check out these CDs on forgiveness by Lighthouse Catholic Media.
written by Marjorie Davin