Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“
For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.
But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Jesus, why is forgiveness so hard sometimes? When I feel like I don’t get the love or respect I deserve, I can bury forgiveness. I’ll rationalize away what I’m feeling and pretend like I’m not bothered, or I’ll choose to simply avoid that person in the future. Like the servant who choked the man who owed him, I can suffocate any possibility of reconciliation.
I know you’ve given me everything, that I came into the world with nothing, and that I’m much happier when I forgive—but it’s still not easy when someone has deeply hurt me.
Your servant, St. Peter Faber, SJ, once said: “Take care, take care never to shut your heart against anyone.” I know that when I close my heart to forgiveness of others, I close my heart to you present in them.
Jesus, take my heart and make it thine!
Who do I need to open my heart to?
Good and gracious God, you offer us forgiveness for all that we do and all that we fail to do. Teach us to forgive others as you forgive us, so that we may never shut our hearts against another. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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