Faith Daily | 14 March 2023
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p486
Lord God, our Redeemer,
who heard the cry of your people
and sent your servant Moses to lead them out of slavery:
free us from the tyranny of sin and death
and, by the leading of your Spirit,
bring us to our promised land;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 18: 21-35
21Then 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?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. 23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, 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. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But 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.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Mary Rose
This chapter is really about forgiveness. Again we are met with the number seven at the beginning of the reading; to the Jews this was a symbol of wholeness or completeness. May be this is why Peter chooses it! But Jesus answers seventy times seven which denotes that there is no limitation; Jesus wants us to end the cycle of violence or dispute by means of forgiveness.
Almost every day in the Lord’s prayer I say – ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us ‘ and I ponder on just how often God forgives us and myself in particular. We can’t count the times because God’s forgiveness is unlimited. He sent his only Son to die for us. Even if we sin time and time again God never stops loving us and is always ready to forgive us. It is love which makes forgiveness possible!
Why do we find it so hard to forgive? Certain commentators suggest it is our memory which causes us to dwell on past hurts. It may also be our wish to defend ourselves from future hurts. Pride can also make us want to get even because it is so much easier to seek revenge than forgiveness. Behaviourists tell us our memory of the past and our fear of the future makes it hard for individuals to let go and move on.
We can see from these understandings about behaviour why Jesus says to Peter seventy times seven, because there should be no limit to forgiveness. Indeed it is the only way that people can live in harmony. Peace is not possible without forgiveness. We can never have peace in ourself if we cannot forgive. Lack of forgiveness, for whatever reason is our problem not the one who has caused us hurt. As the pop song said “all we need is love.”
May we say Lord’s prayer remembering that God has given us the perfect model of love and forgiveness –
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory is yours
now and forever. Amen.