Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin

First Reading: Ezekiel 12:1-12

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house;
they have eyes to see but do not see,
and ears to hear but do not hear,
for they are a rebellious house.
Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on,
prepare your baggage as though for exile,
and again while they are looking on,
migrate from where you live to another place;
perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house.
You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime
while they are looking on;
in the evening, again while they are looking on,
you shall go out like one of those driven into exile;
while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it;
while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness;
cover your face that you may not see the land,
for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.

I did as I was told.
During the day I brought out my baggage
as though it were that of an exile,
and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand
and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness,
shouldering my burden.

Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house,
ask you what you were doing?
Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
This oracle concerns Jerusalem
and the whole house of Israel within it.
I am a sign for you:
as I have done, so shall it be done to them;
as captives they shall go into exile.
The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden
and set out in darkness,
going through a hole he has dug out in the wall,
and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 78:56-57, 58-59, 61-62

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High,
and kept not his decrees.
They turned back and were faithless like their fathers;
they recoiled like a treacherous bow.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
They angered him with their high places
and with their idols roused his jealousy.
God heard and was enraged
and utterly rejected Israel.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
And he surrendered his strength into captivity,
his glory in the hands of the foe.
He abandoned his people to the sword
and was enraged against his inheritance.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Gospel: Matthew 18:21–19:1

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 the fellow servant 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 his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.


aug 11

Seventy-seven times. That’s how much we’re supposed to forgive someone.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Years later I still carry secret grudges from the ones who wounded me. The mean girl in grade school. The cool kids in high school. The college boyfriend who broke my heart. The co-worker whose gossip cut me deep. The friend who betrayed me. The in-law who tore me down behind my back.

Maybe I secretly hope this laundry list of wrongs makes me a martyr. Maybe I selfishly want to stroke my bruised ego and console myself that I was in the right.

Either way, it’s quicker for me to name seventy-seven reasons why I’d rather not forgive.

But unforgiven wrongs weigh us down like heavy burdens. We know this. Jesus knows this.

So He weaves yet another parable to try and teach His disciples that forgiveness is at the heart of what it means to follow Him.

His clear words offer us the key to forgiving someone—anyone, yourself, your beloved, your best friend, your worst enemy—and to keep forgiving them, time after time after time. The key is patience.

Listen to the comfort we miss if we hurriedly read this challenging Gospel. In the midst of harsh words, there is a quiet refrain: Be patient with me.

The parable twists around these four words. When the servant asks patience of his master, compassion moves the good master to forgive. When the fellow servant asks patience of his debtor, the spiteful servant forgets to forgive in return.

One responds with love, knowing the debtor needs patience and forgiveness. One responds with cruelty, grabbing any last shred of power to give himself the upper hand.

Forgive the ones who most need forgiveness. This is the lesson Jesus teaches His disciples—over and over because they forget and sulk and brood like we do. Forgive because forgiveness is offered to you by a loving, merciful God.

It will not be easy. It is never simple to be a sign of God’s compassion in the midst of a rebellious world.

But it will be good and right and holy. This is Jesus’ promise.

Be patient with yourself today. Be patient with those you need to forgive. Remember that you are loved wildly by God, beyond measure. Trust that you will be forgiven completely by God, when you seek with a repentant heart.

photo credit

Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.

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