REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
August 13, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“‘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.” Matthew 18:32-35
That is definitely NOT what you want Jesus to say and do to you! How frightening to hear Him say, “You wicked servant!” And then to have Him hand you over to the torturers until you pay back all you owe for your sins.
Well, the good news is that Jesus deeply longs to avoid such an awful confrontation. He has no desire to hold any one of us accountable for the ugliness of our sins. His burning desire is to forgive us, pour out mercy, and wipe the debt away.
The danger is that there is at least one thing that will keep Him from offering us this act of mercy. It’s our obstinacy in failing to forgive those who have wronged us. This is a serious requirement of God upon us and one we should not take lightly. Jesus told this story for a reason and the reason was that He meant it. We can often just think of Jesus as a very passive and gentle person who will always smile and look the other way when we sin. But don’t forget this parable! Don’t forget that Jesus is serious about obstinate refusal to offer mercy and forgiveness to others.
Why is He so strong on this requirement? Because you cannot receive what you are not willing to give away. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense at first, but it’s a very real fact of the spiritual life. If you want mercy, you must give mercy away. If you want forgiveness, you must offer forgiveness. But if you want harsh judgment and condemnation, then go ahead and offer harsh judgment and condemnation. Jesus will answer that act in kind and severity.
With God’s help, we can imitate his generosity in forgiveness. Jesus teaches that in the kingdom of God, there is generous mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. Where the servant was unforgiving in today’s parable, the king was merciful. So is God merciful to us, no matter how much we might resemble the servant! And so we are called to learn from the servant’s hypocrisy and mercilessness. There are no limits on how many times God forgives us; let us strive to be the same.
Reflect, today, upon those powerfully piercing words of Jesus. “You wicked servant!” Though they may not be the most “inspiring” words to reflect upon, they may be some of the most useful words to reflect on. We all need to hear them at times because we need to be convinced of the seriousness of our obstinance, judgmentalness and harshness toward others. If that is your struggle, repent of this tendency today and let Jesus lift that heavy burden.
Lord, I do repent of my stubbornness of heart. I repent of my harshness and my lack of forgiveness. In Your compassion please do forgive me and fill my heart with your mercy toward others. Jesus, I trust in You.