Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Matthew 18:21-35
Today’s gospel brings to mind the Jesuit value of a faith that does justice. This value refers to a justice that is borne out of one’s faith in God. It is usually thought of in terms of social justice, but it seems applicable in the justice of forgiveness. It is a conviction about God’s love and mercy for us that compels us to love and forgive others.
In His parable of today’s gospel, Jesus tells the story of a man who does not share this value. The servant owes his master a debt that he cannot repay, similar to the debt that we cannot repay for Jesus’ redemption of us through his suffering and death. When, this servant asks his master to forgive him his debt, he does not approach his master with humility and an awareness of his responsibility for the circumstances that led to this huge debt. Instead he is motivated by self-centered expediency. How often do we seek God’s forgiveness with a similar motivation and without truly acknowledging and appreciating His redemptive love?
In the gospel story the first servant is granted his request for forgiveness of his debt. However,without a humble appreciation of the very generous gift that has been given to him by his master, he in turn does not grant another servant forgiveness of a much smaller debt. He lacks the faith and love that would lead him to treating his fellow servant in a manner similar to his master’s forgiveness of him.
Certainly we all can think of times when we had a hard time asking for someone’s forgiveness as well as times when forgiveness has been difficult for us to grant. If we have faith in God’s love and mercy despite our unworthiness, it will lead us to treat others justly with a conviction of their being created in God’s loving image.
By Susan Lineley