Fr. Sanctus Mario
Inspiration and Bible Reflections

We have to forgive: Sunday Breakfast with the Word. 24th Week Ordinary Time.

 

Sunday Breakfast With the Word 24th Sunday Ordinary Time of the Year A

 

Sirach 27:30–28:7, Romans 14:7-9, Matthew 18:21-35

 

 

 

 

 

We have to forgive because it is part of our Christian life. There are times when people do wrong to us or do bad things against us. There are moments we remember past hurts, betrayals, and injuries from our loved or closed ones.

Sometimes when these happen, the best thing we might be thinking to do is to revenge or retaliate the injury.

 

Today there are many families and homes living in discord for many years and still counting and one thing that would baffle you is that almost all of them are Christians.

 

There are many Christians today who have refused to let go of the past. The reason might be that they are seriously looking for an opportunity for revenge.

Forgiveness and unforgiveness possess great power that we can never imagine.

 

A man who was suffering for an unknown ailment and has gone to different hospitals for treatment but all to no avail went to Padre Pio for prayers. Padre Pio prayed for him and told him to go, but instead of getting better, it became worse.

He came to the saint the second time, St Padre Pio who was known for healing also prayed for him again. But instead of the sickness to heal, the result was negative. He went to the saint the third time.

 

Padre Pio, being a gifted priest, saw that his problem is more of psychological than spiritual. The saint told him to list the names of those who have wronged him.

The man listed as many as he can remember. The saint asked him if he could forgive them, he refused. Padre Pio then convinced him to try it as an experiment, to see if He could get healed. The man accepted.

 

After this experience, the man regained peace of mind and later was healed perfectly. When he went back to thank the holy priest, Padre Pio told Him “son you were not sick but you made yourself sick because you have refused to let go”.

 

Whenever we forgive, we do ourselves good than the person we think we have forgiven. When we choose to live in grudges than peace of mind, we create more problems for ourselves than good.

 

Everyone who chooses to live in grudges is like a prisoner. If we want to set ourselves free, we must forgive.

 

The readings of today speak of God’s love, His mercy, His longing to see us forgive, why must forgive, and the power of unforgiveness. We will take our journey today through the gospel, explaining them bit by bit in an exegetical style.

 

 

How Many times we have to forgive?

 

After Jesus has taken time to teach his disciples how to settle conflicts among themselves. In today’s gospel, Peter asks Jesus how many times His brother can offend him and he forgives him. And instead of waiting for Jesus to answer, Peter proposed an answer for Him “As often as seven times?.

 

1. The reason is that, in his previous teaching, Jesus proposed three steps one can undertake to solve wrongdoing, in which after, the wrongdoer will then be treated like a gentile.

 

The Jewish standard for forgiveness was three (Amos 1-2). So Peter knew already that he must forgive and should not live on revenge. But, he thinks he is generous by proposing to forgive seven times.

 

 

2. Secondly, the number seven (7) in rabbinical literature signifies completion and perfection. It was after the 6th day of creation that God rested on the 7th day.

 

Also at the completion of his earthly mission, Jesus spoke seven statements on the cross.

 

Peter thought that reaching seven is enough but Jesus said: “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times”. Which indicates perfection upon perfection. This means uncountable times.

 

3. In essence, Jesus is saying that there is no limit to forgiveness. We have to forgive in a limitless manner. But today we store up offences done against us by our brothers and sisters, waiting for a perfect time to get revenge.

 

Because of this, many are sick and depressed. Storing up injuries is not only against the will of God but a poison to our psychological and spiritual growth.

 

God wants us to forgive

 

To drive home his point, Jesus teaches with a parable. There are many things we have to note in this parable.

 

1. In the parable, there is the king and there are servants. Jesus likens the King to God and we are the servants. In essence, we are born to serve God and nothing more, A servant is always willing to obey the voice of the master and do whatever the master commands.

 

By being servants of God we are bound to follow his commands and one of those commands is to forgive one another (Mark 11:25-27).

 

2. Just like the King shared his accounts and fixed a day of reckoning is also how God has been so proficient in his grace, mercy, and gifts to us and will one day know what we used his gifts to do.

 

By owing the King, therefore, is an indication that every sin we commit is debt to God of which can only be saved by His mercy and forgiveness.

 

2b. Talent at the time of Jesus was a bigger denomination for payment. This infers that the debt of sin is so great that we cannot be able to pay them.

 

Our sacrifices and offerings can never pay for the debts we have accrued through the type of life we are living. God saves us through bountiful grace.

 

3. By becoming unwilling to pay, the master deemed it pertinent to put the servant up for slavery, including his family. The servant was once part of the services of his master, but because of unwillingness to pay, He would have been sold as a slave and his freedom becomes limited.

 

This teaches us that sin keeps us in bondage and creates a very gap between us and God.

 

4. When the servant begged to be given time to pay, the King did not rebuke Him, and He did not even allow him to pay again. The King cancelled all his debts. And despite the heaviness of the debt, the king decided to forgive the servant and did not remind him of a single debt. In the same vein, whenever we seek the mercy and forgiveness of God, He does not waste time to forgive us.

 

If we can only depend on God’s mercy and if God is always willing to forgive us whenever we sin against him, then we should not find it very hard to forgive others for their offences. Sometimes because of God, we have to let go of certain injuries.

 

5. Just like the servant who was forgiven decided not to forgive but to seize his fellow servant only for a hundred denarii which were of lesser value than the one he owed the King is how we inflict more injuries on the other person. We inflict revenge on others more than God does to us.

 

While God is trying to show us more mercy and favour, we are trying to show others with more hatred and revenge.

 

The surprising thing here is that we carry grudges every day for some people and hence expects God to remove our own grudges. Our forgiveness must be from the depth of our hearts.

 

6. When the first servant imprisoned his fellow servant, he thought that the injury was only for that servant and never knew he has created more problems for himself.

 

His re-arrest is because of his action. This will be until he pays the final dime. In such a manner, refusal to forgive is putting ourselves in bondage.

 

We put ourselves in more danger thinking we affect the other person. We also affect ourselves. Sometimes because of our unwillingness to forgive we incur God’s punishment and wrath.

 

To set ourselves free, we have to forgive deeply and forget perpetually from the heart. Let us always know that God wants us to forgive.

 

 

God also Forgives.

 

We have to forgive because God also forgives us. In Colossians 3:13, Paul advises the Christians to “ bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgives”.

 

In the gospel, the servant was owing ten thousand gold talents which was a bigger amount, but the king had mercy on Him and cancelled all. 

 

His debt was totally cancelled by the king but in that of the servant, his debtor only begged for patience but He could not allow him. Because of this, the king became angry. 

 

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Therefore, if we want God to forgive our trespasses, let us remember to forgive others their trespasses. If you expect God to forgive you, you must forgive also. 

 

 If God counts Our Sins.

 

 

Jesus uses ten thousand talents of gold which was a bigger amount at that time to compare with a hundred denarii owed by the other debtor to remind us of the gravity of our sins to God when compared with what others did to us. 

 

In contrast to the fantastic debt of the first servant, the fellow servant’s debt of a hundred denarii was a mere trifle. It is nothing. 

 

So, if God can cancel our sins against Him despite the gravity, then He expects us to do the same. You must forgive. We must forgive others because our sins are more grave, but God forgives us. So, we have to do the same to others because in the eyes of God, what they did to us is smaller. 

 

 

 God detests an Unforgiving Heart.

 

The whole parable and the king’s attitude at last simply indicate that God detests any heart that finds it so difficult to forgive.

 

 In the gospel, the king punishes the servant because of the refusal to forgive. And Jesus says, “ so will my heavenly Father do with you unless each of you forgives your brothers and sisters from the heart”. 

 

This indicates that forgiveness must come from the heart, and unforgiveness can lead to punishment and eternal damnation.

 

 Unforgiveness can limit your blessings. Always be open to letting go of every hurt. We experience inner freedom and peace of mind whenever we let go.

 

 

 It is a sign that you are truly a Christian.

 

 

When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, He says “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who trespassed against us” (Matthew 6:12). Implying in this prayer that God expects to forgive, because of who we are; children of God. Therefore you must forgive because it is a sign that you are truly a Christian.

 

 

It makes You free.

 

 One thing with forgiveness is that it does not affect the other person. It affects you. When you forgive, you become free. Forgiveness liberates your heart from grudges and bitterness which may affect the power of your prayers, but unforgiveness keeps you in bondage. 

Unforgiveness makes you uneasy. It makes you uncomfortable, troubled and full of anxiety. 

 

Unforgiveness keeps you sad, worried, depressed and always regretting. It is like someone in prison. When you forgive and let go, you become free. 

 

In the parable of today, because the servant refuses to forgive, he finds himself in prison. In the same way, when we refuse to forgive, we also imprison ourselves. 

 

So, you must forgive, because the decision not to forgive is to keep your life in the prison of bitterness and depression.

 

 

Unforgiveness and Prayer

 

Do you know that unforgiveness, bitterness and grudges in our hearts can affect our prayers? In the first reading, through the author of Ecclesiasticus, God says Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you; and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.

 

Jesus says in Mark 11:23-25, Therefore I say unto you, Whatsoever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. And when you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone, that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

 

Many people think that when they refuse to forgive someone, it is that the person suffers. This is far from it. What the person suffers could only be your absence but you that refuses is the person that will suffer it.

 

Unforgiveness is a poison to the efficacy of our prayers. This is the reason Saint says in 1 Timothy 2:8, Paul says that every man should pray, without anger or quarreling or resentment or doubt in their mind lifting holy hands without bitterness in their heart. 

 

 

Bitterness is a poison to our spiritual lives and prayers. God says “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this, many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15). 

 

The word “bitterness” comes from the Greek word “pikria.” This Greek word was used in Acts 8:23 which means a condition of extreme wickedness, “gall of bitterness” or “bitter gall.”

 

Romans 3:14 says that it is a mouth full of cursing and bitterness. Ephesians 4:31 says that it is “bitter” hatred; and in Hebrews 12:15 it’s a root of “bitterness,” producing “bitter” fruit.

 

In Deuteronomy 32:33 and Job 20:16, bitterness represents the deadly “poison” or “venom” of poisonous snakes. This is the reason the first reading reminds us that bitterness, anger, and resentment is only characteristic of a sinner and not of the child of God. he who forgives will be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15)

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

1.Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-23).

 

 

When you read Jesus’ response to Peter over and over again, you will discover one thing. You will discover that forgiving others is not only a quality for any Christian. Jesus is making forgiveness a lifestyle that must exist in every Christian.

 

 

Therefore, just as daily lifestyle involves eating, taking our baths, reading our books, going to business, going to offices etc., we have to include forgiveness. Peter asks how many times, Jesus proposes ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times” Therefore, forgiveness must also be a lifestyle. We have to forgive.

 

 

 

2. The truth is that many people abuse this, especially when they see that you easily forgive. Hence, to forgive is not a sign of weakness. We have to forgive because it bears more fruit to us than the other person.

 

 

It is the spiritually strong and spiritually brave person who knows how to forgive. This lifestyle of forgiveness is what Jesus wants “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). The only time we can stop forgiving others is when Jesus Christ stops forgiving us.

 

 

3. Today, many families are living in crisis. Many people feed on envy, jealousy and wickedness. Many families are not on good terms. Husbands will not forgive their wives; wives will not forgive their husbands. Many siblings are in living enmity, afraid of each other.

 

Children bear grudges against their parents and parents bear the same for their children, yet these people speak in tongues every day and are the first to receive holy communion in the church.

 

 

We are deceiving ourselves. Peter tells us, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honour to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

 

If this is true for husbands and wives, then you will find out that the way you also live in your family affects the efficacy of the prayer.

 

A family should come together always in prayer and pray for one another but It’s hard to pray for someone when we hold a grudge toward them.

The only prayer that will come to your heart is how thunder will fire all of them. We have to forgive.

 

 

3. In summary, the message of today’s reading is that God wants us to forgive others as He forgives us. If He treats us the way we treat others, we would not survive it.

 

Then the question is “Are we obeying this?” who is that person you have been quarrelling with? How many years now? Do you want to go to the grave with it?

 

Do we forgive others? Why do we find love in division? How can we improve in forgiveness?

 

 

4. When we say “I forgive you” do we really forgive the person or do we still harbour grudges? In the gospel, Jesus says that unless we forgive from the heart. That means we have to truly let go.

 

So, do say we will forgive, yet we still talk about it? Do we need to wait until they ask us to forgive them? These are some of the questions we need to discuss and meditate on.

 

Forgiveness is a topic that touches everyone. We need to pray that God will help us to become truly forgiving to our brothers and sisters and family around us. Let us repeat the words of the first reading word.

 

The author of the first reading asks “If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his sins? Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?

May God give us the grace. Happy Sunday.

 

 

 

God bless you and happy Sunday

 

 

 

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23 Comments
  1. Julia Ezurike says

    You are doing a great job here. May The Good Lord water you as you water His flocks through The undiluted Word of God. More grace

    1. Sanctus Mario says

      Amen

  2. EMMANUEL FRANCIS says

    May God reinstate in me and and in all the spirit of forgiveness without hesitation. Amen

    1. Sanctus Mario says

      Amen

  3. Okonkwo onyinye says

    AMEN.happy Sunday to you too fr

  4. Bibiana Uche Unachukwu and family says

    Amen Amen Amen. Happy Sunday Fr Santus

  5. Yolanda Malebatsane says

    Amen🙏

  6. Angela Ekere says

    God bless you.

  7. Agina Uchenna says

    Amen.
    And same to you Fr

  8. Odoh Nneka says

    I pray for the grace to always forgive others, in Jesus name Amen, happy Sunday padre

  9. Peter Anthony Dodoh says

    Amen 🙏🙏🙏

  10. Anidiobi Sylvia Ngozi says

    Thank you Jesus.

  11. Eze Juliana Nkechi says

    Amen. God give me the grace to always forgive those that offend me.🙏🙏

  12. Amalu Gloria says

    Amen, the same to you padre. God bless you too.

  13. Nwatu, Nneka P says

    Amen, Fr. Happy Sunday 2 u 2.

  14. Mariajacinta Ivoke says

    Amen

  15. Okeke Juliet Nneka says

    Amen 🙏.

  16. Oby Okpalaeke says

    Amen 🙏. Happy Sunday Fr

  17. John Obasi says

    Amen

  18. Ozoro Christiana says

    AMEN 🙏

  19. Goodluckeocha. says

    Amen. Happy Sunday father.

  20. Dr Nick Onyia says

    Amen and amen 🙏🏼 Remain richly blessed, fr

  21. Mailoushi James says

    Amen remain blessed to the glory of God’s name Amen

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