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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Do as I Do

hand“Jesus answered, ‘…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 the fellow servant 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 your brother from your heart'” (Matthew 18:23-35).
Jesus teaches that we must always forgive because we have been greatly forgiven. No matter how big the hurt we must forgive. That is what we say each time we pray the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
How difficult this forgiveness is for us human beings! Many people hold grudges and refuse to let go. Unwillingness to forgive fuels the fires of resentment and bitterness, doing harm to both the person incapable of forgiving and the one needing forgiveness. Such people will never find real peace in their lives as long as they are incapable of forgiving. As George Herbert said, “He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself.”
Jesus’ parable also reinforces a theme that runs throughout all the New Testament: we must forgive in order to be forgiven. If we do not forgive others, then we cannot hope for God’s forgiveness. This again challenges us to look at our expectations. How often we expect others not to take our mistakes or shortcomings seriously! How easily we hope that others will forgive us our follies! Yet are we able to offer others the same understanding and forgiveness? Or do we refuse to offer the same forgiveness that we often take for granted from others? What does the concept of God’s forgiveness mean to me? Do I believe in such forgiveness and if so, how does it change the way I live?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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