Daily Reflection – Mar 1, 2016
Tuesday 1 March 2016
First Reading: Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Remember your mercies, O Lord
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Today’s Note: 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.”
Not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:22)
Speaking in parables was one of Jesus’ most effective teaching methods. A master storyteller, he had the ability to gain his listeners’ interest and involve them in the drama of his stories. But Jesus didn’t just tell engaging tales—he used them to reveal the love of God and the values of his kingdom.
To bring a lesson home forcefully, Jesus often used exaggeration—a common Semitic practice—or contrasted opposites like wisdom and folly, generosity and stinginess. Surely there’s no clearer instance of exaggeration than today’s Gospel reading about the unforgiving servant. A man who was forgiven an enormous debt—the equivalent of 150,000 years’ wages—refused to cancel another man’s debt that equaled a hundred days’ wages—a debt that was only 1/20,000 of 1 percent as great as his own. Although the servant acknowledged his need for mercy, he didn’t allow that mercy to soften his heart. And the consequence for him was devastating.
The blunt ending of this story is a direct challenge for us to be just as forgiving to other people as God has been to us. It also underscores something Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15). If we are not trying our best to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving, we will find it very hard to pray or to know God’s own love and mercy in our lives.
The season of Lent offers us a special time to come to grips with our need for mercy and to let God’s mercy soften our hearts and influence the way we relate to the people in our lives. God doesn’t want us to hold a grudge or treat unkindly anyone who is “in debt” to us. He doesn’t want to see our hearts darkened by bitterness or resentment. Rather, he wants his peace to rule us—and through us to touch everyone around us. Don’t you want that too?
“Thank you, Jesus, for the countless times you’ve forgiven my sins. Deliver me from any hardness of heart that I harbor toward others, and teach me mercy from your own immeasurable mercy.”