Forgive As He Forgives

First Reading: Daniel 3:25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:

“For your name’s sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25:4-5AB, 6 AND 7BC, 8-9

R. (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”


march 1

We can forgive because He has forgiven us.

Well, in theory of course. We can. It is possible even for our weak human frame, with divine help, to forgive any wrongdoing committed against us. But do we?

I like to think my answer is yes. But then my husband and I will have the same old fight we’ve been having for nearly ten years, and with a little self-examination I will recognize it: that root of bitterness I’ve been holding on to, the memory of that one time that such-and-such happened, that ongoing complaint in the back of my mind that accuses him over and over again. And every time, I realize anew how very dark the shadows in my own heart are.

I’m a middle child; a peacemaker. By nature I am quick to wrap up a hard conversation into a neat little bow, offer a sincere yet premature apology, and eagerly plow forward into fun-loving banter again. This is a theme in my relationships and though it’s certainly a helpful aid in the short-term, it’s not necessarily healthy for the big picture. Because things like unforgiveness and bitterness slide under the radar, hiding out until the worst possible time to rear their ugly heads.

Sometimes our unforgiveness is obvious to us; it may be a very specific, formative incident that haunts us to some degree and that we wrestle with for years. But I think most of the time our own unforgiveness goes unnoticed by us. For the sake of keeping the peace we subconsciously bury our true feelings and put ourselves on autopilot. But the sad part is that without awareness there can be no forgiveness, without forgiveness there is no true reconciliation, and without reconciliation we are doomed to live short of God’s intention for human relationships.

I want all of the beautiful things that God has prepared for my marriage, friendships, and family relationships. That’s going to mean doing some soul-searching and conscience-examining, intentionally extending forgiveness in order to cut down roots of bitterness. It may never come naturally to me, but healthy relationships are always worth the work.

[Tweet “We can forgive because He has forgiven us. But do we?”]

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unforgiveness in your heart, and take the necessary steps toward wholeness.

photo credit

Shannon Evans is a Protestant missionary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. An adoptive and biological mom of two boys, she enjoys hosing mud off children, scrubbing sticky furniture, and rushing to the ER to have nails extracted from small intestines. You can find out more about her here.

No Comments

Leave a Reply