Last weekend I focused on the difference between judgment and the difficult obligation of fraternal correction. This weekend, the focus of the Gospel is something just as difficult: forgiveness.
We all feel entitled to be forgiven when we’ve apologized, but how often and how quickly do we forgive when we are wronged? The parable used by our Lord in today’s Gospel should make us feel uncomfortable, based on how accurate a portrayal it is of how we act. The ungrateful servant, whose massive debt was forgiven, did not understand the great mercy shown to him by his master, so he didn’t hesitate to exact a much smaller debt owed to him.
This is why we fail to forgive others: We don’t understand or think enough about God’s mercy. We don’t understand how gratuitous it is. We don’t understand how undeserved it is. We don’t understand how infinite it is. We don’t understand how often we require it. When we don’t consider how many times we have wronged God and have needed His forgiveness, we don’t feel the need to show that same mercy towards others.
One way to become more forgiving is to come frequently to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The more we encounter God’s mercy, the more likely we are to imitate it. The more conscious we are of our own failings, the less likely we are to hold the failings of others against them. The more we hear “I absolve you” from God, the more likely we are to say “I forgive you” to others. And just as we know that there is no limit to God’s willingness to forgive, so there should be no limit to our willingness to forgive.
Is there someone in your life who needs your forgiveness? Is there someone in your life who is awaiting your apology? Is there someone against whom you hold a grudge? Is there someone who holds a grudge against you? Let’s use the time we have to bring more mercy and forgiveness into the world.