Then 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?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, 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.
So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But 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.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.
When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.
So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In a different, yet related conversation Jesus had with his disciples, he introduces the prodigal son. “Prodigal” describes the use of resources in a reckless or extravagant way, making a great adjective for how the son squanders his father’s inheritance. But the father in the story is a much more compelling form of prodigal behavior. When the son finally returns, the father uses all of his resources to abundantly welcome the son home, to forgive him, and to love him. What would our world look like if we forgave so recklessly? If we poured out such an excess of love and forgiveness, to the degree that it starts to feel a bit extravagant or wasteful? I sure don’t know the answer, but I’d bet it would look a little something like Jesus intended when he tried to explain forgiveness to Peter. May we use Christ’s reminder to serve others with a humble heart, abundant with forgiveness.
—Rose-Carmel Goddard is a student at the University of Michigan and is an active member of St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.
“Teach me your way of looking at people:
As you glanced at Peter after his denial,
As you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
And the hearts of your disciples.” (Pedro Arrupe)
Lord, we humbly ask to unite our hearts, our perspective, our whole selves to you, that we may attempt to mirror even a fraction of the mercy and compassion you offer us. Remind us to be reckless with your love and extravagantly extend forgiveness to all our neighbors. Amen.
—Rose-Carmel GoddardPlease share the Good Word with your friends!