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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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 18, 21-35

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.'

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Peter goes close to Jesus and asks him how many times he should forgive. In order to show his willingness, Peter makes a generous offer: seven times. His question wants to overcome the normal instinct of the law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." However Jesus’ answer goes beyond every measure. Peter was looking for measure, even a generous one, in forgiveness; and yet Jesus abolishes it. Then Jesus imposes on Peter and the disciples to be ready to an unlimited forgiveness: "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times," that is always. Only in this way can we dismantle the mechanism that continuously regenerates sin, division, and revenge among men and women. Jesus then tells the parable of the king who is settling his accounts with his servants. One of them has an enormous debt: ten thousand talents (some ten billions of dollars!). The servant mumbles a promise that truly he will never be able to keep and asks the king to be patient. At this point the king generously cancels totally his debt. We can imagine the joy of that servant. However his heart remains hardened. That gesture of extraordinary compassion did not even tarnish his hardness of heart. We should be clear that this is not because of the weakness of the king’s gesture but rather because of the incredible hardness of the servant. The servant remains the same as before. Being moved in deed is not natural and even less spontaneous; it requires always a choice, a decision, in sum a change. His heart remains ice cold. In fact when he meets another servant who had a very small debt with him, not only is he not patient as he asked from the king, but he even seized him by the throat almost choking him. The conclusion is tragic: his hardened and wicked heart leads him from the cancellation of his debt to the harshest of punishments. Those who allow themselves to be lead by the hardness of their hearts will be punished by their same hardness. With this parable, Jesus reminds us that we are all debtors and he invites us to thank the Lord for his great mercy that forgives everything. Let us be vigilant and try to imitate God’s mercy. We are quick to defend ourselves and we are inflexible as other people’s requests. This is why in the prayer of the Our Father Jesus has us say: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." The parable we heard makes us understand the seriousness of our request. Let us convert our heart to the Lord and welcome his mercy.


03/29/2011
Memory of the Mother of the Lord


Calendar of the week
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4
Sunday, 4 December
Liturgy of the Sunday
DEC
5
Monday, 5 December
Prayer for the Sick
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Memory of the Mother of the Lord
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Wednesday, 7 December
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
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Thursday, 8 December
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Friday, 9 December
Memory of Jesus crucified
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Sunday Vigil
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Sunday, 11 December
Liturgy of the Sunday

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