September 17: The Day of the Lord

The parables of Jesus often use exaggeration to draw our attention to the moral (or lesson) Jesus wants to share with us. His parables are also often marked by “twists” in the stories, sort of like “surprise punchlines” which make us think in a new way or consider new possibilities for how life might be if we follow Jesus more fully. Yet another feature of His parables is an invitation to “make the parable our own,” to put ourselves into the story, imagining ourselves as one or more of the characters, making a personal connection.

One possible personal connection in today’s Gospel (Matthew 18, 21-35), a way we can see ourselves in the parable, could be this: the accumulated sum of all our sins makes us greater “debtors” before God than the first debtor in the story. But God is ready to forgive us unconditionally. Meanwhile, the sum total of all the offenses which our brothers and sisters commit against us is equivalent to the small debt of the second debtor in the parable (see yesterday’s comments: 15 years of wages vs. 3 months). Isn’t it true that, on occasion, our own merciless behavior towards our fellow human beings has been both disappointing and sad, resembling that of the forgiven first servant?

The bottom line is that members of the Church are “commanded” to treat one another as God has treated each of us. The Lord calls us to throw away the calculator when it comes to forgiveness! We are invited to choose always the more honorable path and forgive one another “from the heart.” Again, having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and from God’s people, we are then called (and given sufficient grace) to forgive those who wound us in our turn. In doing so, we make it possible for others to experience God’s generous and tender mercy – through us. This week’s homework: to forgive one another – as we have been forgiven.

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