TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle A/Year I (September 17, 2017)
Sir 27:30-28:7/Rom 14:7-9/Mt 18:21-35
Peter asked Jesus Christ these questions: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times? (Mt 18:21)” Actually, the questions of Peter are the same questions of the majority of us. As good persons and striving Christians, we also forgive those who have sinned against us. But there are times when people abuse us. And so we ask the same question of Peter: How often must we forgive? The rabbinic law states that one must forgive three times. What Peter did was to double it and added one and then he suggested to Jesus to forgive seven times. He was thinking that he was already a much better person with such kind of forgiving attitude.
The response of Jesus surely surprised Peter. Jesus said: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Mt 18:22). With this teaching of Jesus, we, Christians, are expected to forgive our enemies whenever they harm us and we have to forgive them without limit. There is no need to wait for the enemies to be repentant or to ask our forgiveness; we need to forgive our enemies even though they do not ask for it because it is our obligation to forgive as taught by Jesus. And we are to forgive always.
We need to forgive anyone who has harmed us in any way. We need to forgive in order for us to be forgiven of our sinfulness. This is the teaching of Jesus who said: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). In short, to be forgiven by God, we need to forgive those who have wronged us. William Barclay said that divine and human forgiveness go hand in hand.
The sins that we commit against God are represented by the huge amount which the first servant owed his master. Any sin that we commit against God has a multiplying effect because it is an offense against the Holiest of all holies; it is a sin against God. The sins that our neighbor commit against us are represented by the small amount which the second servant owed the first servant. The sins of our neighbors against us are too small if we compare them to the sins we personally commit against God. Yet God has easily forgiven us of our sinfulness through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross. We must then forgive our brothers of their offense against us because such is nothing as compared to the sacrifice God made in order to forgive us of our sinfulness.
We must forgive always and without limit. God always forgives us of our sinfulness. Therefore, we too must forgive others without limit. If God will limit the many times that He forgives us, then we will surely be condemned to eternal damnation. The good thing is that God is merciful and forgiving. He always forgives especially if we humble ourselves and confess our sins through the Sacrament of Penance. Let us then be merciful and forgiving. Let us always forgive our brothers so that the door of mercy may be opened to us for us to enter into the everlasting life.