Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Our Gospel passage today begins on a very positive note. The king forgave the debt, not because the debtor deserved it, but because the king was very generous; he took pity on the man and showed him compassion and mercy.
Similarly, we come before the LORD, recognizing that He has forgiven our debts – that is, our sins - and, hopefully, we have hearts that are grateful for God's compassion and mercy. Every time we gather to celebrate the Mass, we are reminded of and experience the LORD's mercy in the Penitential Rite. The LORD'S Prayer invites us to imitate God's forgiveness and mercy when we ask God to forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
While the Gospel passage begins on such a positive note, it's sad that it ends on such a negative note. The debtor failed to allow his mercy experience to inspire him to imitate the same mercy to others. He was relieved to be free of his debt, but his heart lacked the same mercy and compassion shown to him.
So, through the understandable anger of the master who had shown him mercy, the debtor found himself in prison until he could repay the debt. Of course, he could not repay the debt while in prison, and so, it seems that, through no fault but his own, he found himself imprisoned for the rest of his life. He chose his way and not the way of his master, and he paid dearly for it.
When I was in college, I used to have a friend who, when he would pray the LORD'S Prayer during Mass, would add a single word that changed the meaning of it. Instead of saying, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," he said, "Forgive us our trespasses as we should forgive those who trespass against us." That changes things a lot.
While I think my friend was well-meaning, his words sought permission for us to seek mercy even when we aren't willing to give mercy ourselves; it sought to let us off the hook for failing to let the mercy of God help us to be merciful to others. It was a single, simple word, but it changed the whole prayer, and it went against the spirit of the prayer and the desired spirit of today's Gospel passage. It reinforced the desire to have things our way and not God's way.
So, let us seek to be genuinely humble in our acceptance of God's mercy and compassion, recognizing the call to do things in God's way and not in our way. Let us take the opportunity to receive the love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us look upon others with eyes of love that reflect the love that we have received from God, and may that love move us to imitate that mercy and forgiveness we have received from God in our relationship with others.+
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