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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 18,21-19,1

Then Peter went up to him and said, 'Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?'

Jesus answered, 'Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

'And so the kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants.

When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents;

he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt.

At this, the servant threw himself down at his master's feet, with the words, "Be patient with me and I will pay the whole sum."

And the servant's master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt.

Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow-servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him, saying, "Pay what you owe me."

His fellow-servant fell at his feet and appealed to him, saying, "Be patient with me and I will pay you."

But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt.

His fellow-servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him.

Then the master sent for the man and said to him, "You wicked servant, I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me.

Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow-servant just as I had pity on you?"

And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt.

And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.'

Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and he left Galilee and came into the territory of Judaea on the far side of the Jordan.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Peter is ready to put up with the wrongs he has suffered more than what is required. But in his response, Jesus abolishes any sense of measure. Forgiveness, like love, is limitless. Jesus tells Peter to forgive seventy-seven times, that is, always. The parable told by Jesus opposes the logic of calculation and revenge with the logic of love and limitless forgiveness. It is clear in the Gospel that this is the only way to dismantle the mechanism that continuously regenerates sin, division, and revenge among men and women. The perverse forces of evil, hatred, and war do not only entangle the violent, but also make all those they touch violent, and they imprison them in a logic from which they cannot escape, even with the admittedly abundant measure of forgiveness seen in Peter’s seven times. Seeing Peter’s perplexity, Jesus speaks of a king who is settling his accounts with his servants. One has an enormous debt: ten thousand talents. The servant hastily makes a promise he will never be able to keep. Like him, we all waste resources that are not our own. We are therefore debtors, like that servant, and we have accumulated massive debts with our master. How? Above all by believing ourselves to be masters of what has only been entrusted to us. Additionally, we accumulate this debt through our adolescent and thoughtless attraction to risk, which ends up not valuing anything, or through the drunkenness of abundance, which only leads us to consume things like drugs and leaves us slaves to the logic of satisfaction. Jesus reminds us that we are all debtors and that only the master’s compassion can satisfy the debt. If this awareness becomes personal, we can transfer mercy to others. But if we return to the same mentality that led us to accumulate such an enormous debt in the first place, we will look harshly on those who ask us for something. We are quick to defend ourselves; we know how to be demanding and inflexible in front of other people’s requests. The servant receives the harshest of condemnations; in truth, he has excluded himself from mercy.

Memory of the Church