【英汉主日分享】| FORGIVENESS: THE FEAST OF GOD AND PEOPLE（24th Sunday in Ordinary Time）
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time —Year A
Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew,
Glory to you, O Lord!
Then Peter approaching 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 his brother from his heart."
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.
Homily： FORGIVENESS: THE FEAST OF GOD AND PEOPLE
The question that opens today’s gospel, “How many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?" reveals that Peter already knows that Jesus intends to go beyond the limits set by the scribes. He certainly remembers what has been said in the Sermon on the Mount, “If you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother and then come back and offer your gift to God” (Mt 5:23-24), and “If you forgive others their wrongdoings, our Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others…" (Mt 6:14-15). He also presents another unequivocal statement of the Master, "If your brother offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I’m sorry,’ forgive him” (Lk 17:3-4).
The answer of Jesus goes beyond what already scares Peter, "No, not seven times (that is always) but seventy times seven (even more than always).” To clarify his thoughts, he tells a parable.
A debtor who owed ten thousand talents was presented to the king. The talent is about thirty-six kilograms of gold; its value multiplied by ten thousand—the most elevated figure in the Greek language—amounts to a huge sum that corresponds to the salary of 200,000 years of work—2,400,000 payrolls. It’s unthinkable that someone could repay such an amount.
Showing a generosity without limits, the master of the parable, who represents God, touched by the plight of his servant, condones all the debt. There’s no sin that God cannot forgive; there is no fault superior to his immense love.
In the second part of the story another servant who owes the first a hundred denarii enters. It is a considerable sum, equivalent to 100 working days, but paltry compared with that condoned by the king.
The second debtor uses the same prayer to his colleague, hoping to get the same compassion. The merciless servant, however, grabs him by the neck and begins to choke him, saying: “Give me what you owe!”
The central message of the parable is to be sought, obviously, in the huge disproportion between the two debts, and in the stark contrast between the behavior of God who always forgives and that of the man who refuses to forgive. The image of suffocation gives a good idea of the psychological subjection in which the one who did wrong is reduced.
With the parable, Jesus is interested in highlighting the enormous distance that exists between God's heart and the human heart, between his love and ours.
We ask the Father to "forgive our debt" in prayer. What does God expect from us? His very own "compassion”: he wants that we do not keep the brother/sister a slave of their past. He claims that we do not take their breath away while they desperately try to rise up from the chasm. God asks us to help them seventy times seven, renouncing any recourse against them. They understood that "love does not delight in wrong, excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:5-7). Whoever has accepted this new logic is willing to lose, to forget all their own rights just to see again their brother/sister happy, peaceful and free from their sin.