Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“ For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.
But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.
When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’
And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I always inwardly cringe when the forgiveness Gospels come up. My better self is all on board with forgiving seventy-seven times, but sometimes the side of me that really likes to be right, or to hold a grudge, gets in the way. The king in today’s story was completely in the right. He was owed an amount of money that his servant had promised to repay. But he doesn’t leave it at that, although everyone would certainly understand if he did. Instead, he is moved to pity, and chooses mercy over vindication.
What might some of our relationships look like if we stopped keeping track of what is fair, and instead focused on what would be the best for the relationship? I know that the grudges I hold tend to eat at me, and make me miserable in those relationships. When I am able to really forgive someone, it doesn’t mean that I forget the past, but it does mean that I make an effort to move past the hurt and enter into a new phase in that relationship.
Who in your life might you offer forgiveness to today?
—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality. She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.
Almighty God, You have listened patiently to my concerns and consoled me in times of hardship. Let me remember Your presence and love for me when I am called upon to forgive another person for an unkind word or action. You have shown me how to act, what to say, what to do, and yet I sometimes react in anger and find it difficult to forgive others as You so often have forgiven me. Grant that I may recognize this failing in myself and remember Your words and example whenever I have need of a forgiving spirit. Amen
—Traditional prayer to forgive those who have hurt us