24th Sunday O.T. (A): FORGIVE, ALWAYS!

24th Sunday O.T. (A)
FORGIVE, ALWAYS!

OUTLINE

  1. Summary of ideas of today’s Sunday readings
  2. What does “seventy times seven” mean in Hebrew?
  3. An important lesson from the parable of the unforgiving servant: Forgive always as you are forgiven by God.

1. Summary of ideas of today’s Sunday readings

Today’s Sunday Liturgy of the Word centers on the forgiveness of offenses.

  • In the 1st reading (Sirach 27:30–28:9): “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”
  • And the Gospel tells us Our Lord’s reply to Peter’s question: “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. And takes advantage of teaching us the plight of the unforgiving servant.

2. What does “seventy times seven” mean in Hebrew?

Peter’s question and, particularly, Jesus’ reply prescribe the spirit of understanding and mercy which should govern Christians’ behavior with regards to those who offend them.

  • In Hebrew the figure of seventy times seven means the same as “always” (cf. Gen 4:24). As St. John Chrysostom wrote: “Therefore, our Lord did not limit forgiveness to a fixed number, but declared that it must be continuous and for ever” (Hom. on St Matthew, 6).
  • Here also we can see the contrast between man’s ungenerous, calculating approach to forgiveness, and God’s infinite mercy.

3. An important lesson from the parable of the unforgiving servant: Forgive always as you are forgiven by God.

Furthermore, the parable of the unforgiving servant clearly shows that we are totally in God’s debt: all we are and have, comes from God.

  • A talent was the equivalent of six thousand denarii.
  • A denarius is a working man’s daily wage.
  • Hence, ten thousand talents, or 60,000 denarii (equivalent to roughly 181 years of wages) an enormous sum of money, gives us a clear idea of the immense value attaching to the pardon we receive from God, and which we must also give to our neighbor:

Overall, the parable teaches us that we must always forgive our brothers, and must do so wholeheartedly, just as the master (God the Father) forgave his servant.

‘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.”

  •  “Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you” (St. Josemaria, The Way, 452).

In the Lord’s Prayer we always ask the Father to: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

  • The forgiveness we ask of God is linked with the forgiveness we give to others.
  • In this way, by forgiving those who offend us, we are imitating and living in our lives the inestimable mercy of God, who is “is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion (Resp. psalm).”

 “Let us forgive, and we shall be forgiven. Let us have mercy on others, and we shall feel that  mercy of God, who, when he forgives, also ‘forgets.’” (Pope Francis)

 

Dear brethren in Christ, do we bear grudges, harbor resentment or hatred in our heart towards somebody?

 Let us ask Our Lord Jesus Christ to make our love for God real enough to manifest itself in our willingness to forgive those who have offended us, no matter what it takes. After all, isn’t this the path Christ showed to us and to which He calls us to embark on? Only when we decide to be forgiving shall we live His life and live our life for Him (cf. 2nd reading: Rom: 4:7-9), for pardoning is what makes us humans, divine.

A Blessed Sunday and week ahead!

 Fr. Rolly Arjonillo

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