“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.”
Second reading: Rom. 14: 7-9
“Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
Gospel reading: Mt. 18: 21-35“Peter approached Jesus and asked him, ‘Lord, of my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why 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, 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 let, 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 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 you brother from your heart.”
Introductory theme summary:The obvious common theme from today’s readings is the Lord’s judgment concerning our sins. The surprising twist involves the need for us to forgive others if we want forgiveness for ourselves.
Reflection:I don’t think there is a more important message in our Christian beliefs than the Lord’s instruction to forgive others. He, who alone is the judge, tells us that we will not be forgiven if we do not forgive, and this forgiveness needs to come from our hearts. It must be heart felt. This forgiveness must resonate from our interior being.
When I consider how so many, so called – Christians, in our society make it their mission to exact “justice” against those who are guilty, I cannot help but wonder where they actually stand with the Lord even though they are called “ministers.” Not only are we to forgive, we are also expected to forbear injustices. You know the saying, “Turn the other cheek”. I understand a non-Christian seeking justice, because they do not receive the Lord’s instruction, but not a Christian. We who profess the Christian faith are held to a higher standard of beliefs. It is up to us to show the world how true children of God behave. Children of God do not seek revenge under the name “justice.” That’s what the children of the world do.What are you; a child of God or a child of the world?