Faith Matters

Sunday’s Gospel - Matt 18:21-35: I do not tell you to forgive seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

REFLECT

· The nature of forgiveness is a complex issue in today’s world. It is quite sad that we live in an age where people are quick to punish wrong doers.

· In this story, Jesus is questioned on the amount of times we should forgive wrong doers by Peter. ‘…not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’

· What did Jesus mean by this? Why seventy-seven times? Why such a specific number? Jesus was making the point that it doesn’t matter how many times people do bad by us, we should always remain merciful and keep forgiving them.

· To further enhance his point about forgiveness, Jesus tells Peter a parable about a servant who owed money to a King. This particular King however saw that the servant was indeed poor and he and cancelled the debt out of kindness and compassion for him.

· As the story progresses, the tables turn and the servant finds himself in a similar situation where he was asked to show mercy to someone who owed him money. He was not so kind and threw the man into prison after he failed to pay the debt back.

· When the King heard about this, he was extremely angry with the servant. He threw him into prison where he was punished.

· This story first encourages us show love and understanding to those in unfortunate positions than our own. Finally, to never hold people to the same standards if we cannot reach them ourselves.

· Who are you in this story? Are you the King or the unforgiving servant?