“So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

This day, Matthew tells of an encounter between Jesus and Peter (Mt 18:21-35).  Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive someone who wrongs him.  Jesus responds that the number of times is unlimited and then tells him how the kingdom of heaven is like a master who forgives an unfathomable debt to a servant who begs him to.  That servant, though, is unwilling to forgo the miniscule amount owed to him by a fellow servant.  When news of this incident comes back to the master, he angrily denounces the first servant, “hand[ing] him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.” (v. 34)  Jesus concludes with the line at top.  We would do well to take seriously this conclusion to Jesus response.  Peter undoubtedly thought he was being magnanimous in being willing to forgive someone seven times.  Jesus quickly puts this into perspective by relating how the Father (Master) forgives us in ways we can’t imagine.  As we are to emulate God, we must also not put a limit on forgiveness.  But how difficult this is!  Even a minor offense easily causes us grief.  But serious harm to us or our loved ones?  We can easily fall into a very comfortable grudge, or worse, a desire for revenge.  This is not the way of the Lord.  And our response has eternal consequences.  Just like the servant in the parable, we can never repay our debt to God.  And like that servant, our torture will be eternal, if we don’t show our faith in God by loving Him and our neighbor as ourselves (see later in Matthew at 22:36-40).  This is so foundational to our faith, that Jesus blessed us with the Our Father prayer (see earlier in Matthew at 6:9-15) to remind us every time we say it as to what our response should be in all circumstances.  This is not a wimpy attitude, it is Jesus attitude, and He is no softie.  We don’t stand for injustice and we should pray hard and work hard to eliminate it.  All the while, though, we hate the sin and love the sinner.

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