REFLECTION FOR TODAY
March 9, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “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. Matthew 18:21–22
We all probably have at least one relationship in which the memory of unforgiven hurt continues to linger and prevents us from fully loving some person. Forgiveness of another could be difficult. It may even be much easier to remain angry. Lent is a journey of shared forgiveness between us and God and others.
Our gospel reference today is the introduction to the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. In this parable, Jesus makes it clear that if we want to receive forgiveness from God, then we must forgive others. If we withhold forgiveness, we can be certain that God will withhold it from us.
In this parable. Peter may have thought that he was being quite generous in his question to Jesus. Clearly Peter had been considering Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness and was ready to take the next step of offering that forgiveness freely. But Jesus’ answer to Peter makes it clear that Peter’s concept of forgiveness greatly paled in comparison to the forgiveness demanded by our Lord.
The parable tells us of a man who failed to offer same forgiveness to a small debt after he was forgiven of his huge debt. As a result, his master 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.”
The forgiveness God expects us to offer others is one that comes from the heart. The lack of forgiveness on our part will result in us being handed “over to the torturers.” These are serious words. By “torturers,” we should understand that the sin of not forgiving another brings with it much interior pain. When we hold on to anger, this act “tortures” us in a certain way.
Sin always has this effect upon us, and it is for our good. It’s a way in which God constantly challenges us to change. Thus, the only way to freedom from this interior form of torture by our sin is to overcome that sin, and in this case, to overcome the sin of withholding forgiveness.
Many Christians harbor resentment and anger from past experience and encounter. Unforgiveness can hinder God’s grace and work in our lives today. It can deny us of the peace, joy and love of God. What is that obstacle that hinders us from forgiving the way Jesus want us?
Reflect, today, upon the calling God has given to you to forgive to the fullest extent. If you still sense anger in your heart toward another, keep working at it. Forgive over and over. Pray for that person. Refrain from judging them or condemning them. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and God’s abundant mercy will also be given to you.
My forgiving Lord, I thank You for the unfathomable depths of Your mercy. I thank You for Your willingness to forgive me over and over again. Please give me a heart worthy of that forgiveness by helping me to forgive all people to the same extent that You have forgiven me. I forgive all who have sinned against me, dear Lord. Help me to continue to do so from the depths of my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.