Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 18: 21-35
Only a very generous man offers to forgive unconditionally seven times. From a human perspective what St. Peter offered is unusual and heroic. Being with Jesus for some time had transformed Peter a lot. We still live in a world where forgiving for the first offense is seen as generosity; forgiving the second time is deemed as weakness; and forgiving a seventh time is counted as madness. No one can deny that Peter had grown a lot with Jesus.
Being with Jesus for a few months had changed Peter considerably. That transformation was made complete when Jesus intervened. Peter put an extremely generous limit for forgiving. Jesus intervened to take away all limits. Peter suggested forgiving was generosity. Jesus corrected him, asserting that forgiving is obligatory. Forgiving is obligatory because we need forgiveness. Forgiving is a duty because we are already forgiven.
We are obliged to forgive because we are forgiven. The parable we just heard puts it so plainly that we need to forgive because we are forgiven. We are forgiven without measure. The parable tells of two types of coins, the talent and the denarii. One denarius was the daily wage of a casual laborer. Six thousand denarii would make it one talent. If a daily laborer worked six days a week, fifty weeks a year for twenty years, he would earn a talent. The servant in the parable owed ten thousand talents to his master. But the other servant had to pay a hundred denarii to his coworker. The amounts are no match, to say the least. What we owe to God is no match to what others owe to us. Since all of us belong to the same master, or better, since all of us belong to the same Heavenly Father, and since we are forgiven generously, we are obliged to forgive.
Forgiving is our sacred duty because we are children of a forgiving Heavenly Father. One of the sweet memories of childhood is trying the dress and shoes of the parents. Any child proud of their parent would try the wardrobe of their parent. When we try forgiving, we are trying to step into the shoes of our Heavenly Father. That is the cutest thing our Heavenly Father loves to see us doing. If you haven’t started forgiving without counting, you have not started to grow; you have not started to grow as per the standards of heaven. When you start forgiving without counting you are proving to yourself that you are the proud child of your Heavenly Father.
When you forgive, forgive like Jesus. Jesus forgiving from the cross is the best example. Jesus did not tell them that he forgave them, rather, he took their side and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Lk 23:34). Most of us would not have sinned if we really knew. We hardly know how others see it or feel it. It is the same with others too. Hence try the shoes of Jesus. Learn to forgive like Jesus.
“How can I be sure that I have really forgiven?” If you have started praying for the wellbeing and salvation of the offender you have forgiven him. Learn to forgive like Jesus, learn to love like Jesus, and learn to pray like Jesus.