Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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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 approaches Jesus and asks him how many times he should forgive. In order to show his generosity, he even makes a generous offer: seven times. His question is meant to overcome the normal and instinctive law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Peter is ready to put up with wrong beyond what is expected. But in his response, Jesus abolishes all measure. Indeed, forgiveness is like love: it is limitless and boundless. And Jesus orders Peter and the disciples to be ready for unlimited forgiveness: "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times," that is, always. This is the only way for the mechanism that continuously generates sin, division, and revenge among men and women to be dismantled. Seeing Peter's perplexity, Jesus tells of a king who is settling accounts with his servants. One of them has a disastrous debt: ten thousand talents (some tens of billions of dollars). The servant mumbles a promise that in truth he will never be able to keep. And he asks the king to be patient. The king's magnanimity leads him to cancel the servant's debt entirely. We can imagine the man's joy. But his heart was not in the least touched by the king's boundless mercy. He remains the same as before. In fact, when he meets another servant, who had a very small debt with him, not only is he not patient, as he had asked the king to be, but he grabs him by the throat and throttles him. The conclusion for him is dramatic: his hardened and wicked heart led him from the cancellation of his debt to the harshest of punishments. Those who allow themselves to be led by the hardness of their hearts will be punished by that 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 with ourselves and try to imitate God's mercy. We are quick to defend ourselves and we are inflexible towards 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 this request. Let us convert our hearts to the Lord and welcome his mercy.