DN 3:25, 34-43
PS 25: 4-5AB, 6 and 7 BC, 8-9
MT 18: 21-35
Today’s readings discuss mercy and forgiveness, themes we are likely familiar with following last year’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. Lent is a great time to review that and to remind ourselves that God’s Mercy towards us all, and our mercy towards others, is not and should not be limited just to the 2016 liturgical year.
In the first reading from Daniel 3:25,34-43 and the first half of the gospel from Matthew 18:21-27, we are reminded of how great God’s mercy is for us. In Daniel, Azariah acknowledges how our offenses against God merit a loss of relationship with Him, but he appeals to God’s mercy, begging that He forget our sin and remember His covenant with us. In Matthew 18:21-27, when a servant who owes “a huge debt” begs the king for patience so that he can pay him back a little later, the king does not offer patience, but complete forgiveness. Whereas before forgiving the servant, the king intended to sell the servant, his family and his property to pay off the debt, because the servant pleaded with him, his entire debt was repaid. We must acknowledge that we have sinned and that the consequences of our sins are vast and unable to be paid, meriting a loss of relationship with God, our loved ones and even ourselves. But God’s mercy is even vaster than our sins. When we ask for patience, God gives us pardon and peace.
This story of mercy and forgiveness does not end here though, as we see in the second half of today’s Gospel (Matt 18:28-35). Continuing the story of the king and his servant whose large debt has just been forgiven, we see the same servant act completely mercilessly towards one of his own servants who owes a much smaller debt. The king is deeply disturbed by the servant’s lack of mercy and revokes the pardon he had offered to the servant.
It is no lie that here on earth we have been and will continue to be hurt and disappointed by others and even ourselves. It is so tempting to demand that these debts be repaid promptly and in full and to insist that a relationship remain severed until the hurt is repaired. But we must remember how we have hurt God and how he has always offered forgiveness to us. We must always remember—and contemplate especially this Lent—the sacrifice that Christ made during his life and in his death that enabled our debts to be forgiven and our relationship with God always to be restored. We remember this not only in our thoughts but also in our actions, in our mercy and forgiveness of other and ourselves. God wants us to be like Him in all things, and that includes in His Mercy and Forgiveness. Today and for the rest of Lent, as we remember our sins and the mercy of God, let us also ask God for the graces to forgive all who have hurt us so that on Easter Sunday, we will be received with a “contrite heart and a humble spirit” (Daniel 3:39).
Betsy Daly is a junior in the School of Education. She has a double major in Education and Theology. She is also involved with Students for Life and the Edmund Campion Society.