Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

Matt 18:21-35

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

The famed psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger (Today in the Word, March 1989, p. 8) once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day!

One of the most beautiful words in any language is the word “forgive.” The word is a common one but the essence of the word is in the last part, “give”. To forGIVE means to give someone a release from the wrong that he has done to you. It means to give up any right of retaliation.

Accordingly, there are five kinds of forgiveness in the Bible. First is Judicial Forgiveness. This is the eternal forgiveness of all sins of the one who has trusted Christ, (Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:7). Second is Paternal Forgiveness. This is restoration of fellowship with God after we committed sin. The conditions are twofold: a) Confession (1John 1:9; John 13:4-10); (b) Forgiveness of others. Third is Personal Forgiveness. This is the restoration of our fellowship with others. This is so important because Jesus teaches us that we are forgiven if we are willing to forgive others, (Matt. 6:14-15). Fourth is Social forgiveness. This is restoration of our fellowship with society, (John 8:1-10). This may be a personal attitude or getting ourselves involved in programs and ministries of our parish. Fifth is Ecclesiastical Forgiveness. This is restoration of fellowship with the church (2Cor. 2:5-11). This forgiveness assumes a prior discipline by the church. The purpose of discipline is restoration; and forgiveness assumes repentance and restoration.

And for the Jews forgiving others is not only a duty to fulfil but also a part of their religious life as well. Like for example in the book of Sirach, it says: “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven,” (28:2). But there are limitations or they numbered their forgiveness that they ought to give to other people. An example of this is in the book of Job: “Forgive man twice, three times,” (33:29). Most of the Jewish leaders during that time proposed that it was more than enough to forgive four times.

That is why in today’s gospel, St. Peter, thinking that he exceeds the teaching of the rabbis, makes a proposal of forgiving others seven times, a perfect number for the Jews; it means completeness as in seven days for the creation of the world. He thinks that he is generous enough and deserves appreciation from Jesus. But Jesus answers him: “Not seven times but seventy seven times.” In other words, Jesus is asking His disciples to forgive others without limitation and at all times. Forgiveness is a matter of love and not of how many times.

Yes forgiveness is very hard to do especially if we are hurt due to past troubles, rejection and humiliation, suspicion and distrust. Forgiveness hurts especially when it is extended to somebody who doesn’t deserve it; has not earned it; and may misuse it. Forgiveness also costs especially when it means accepting instead of demanding repayment for the wrong done; releasing the other instead of exacting revenge; reaching out in love instead of relinquishing resentments.

But forgiveness is our deepest need and at the same time, our highest achievement. Let us set the other person free through confession of our sins and prayer. This is true forgiveness. Let us contribute to the healing forgiveness that we and the world so greatly long for.

It is far better to forgive and forget than to resent and remember, (Our Daily Bread, Thursday, December 20).

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The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a gift. It is free of charge and will remain so. Maybe for this reason, this sacrament is taken for granted, and thus it is not fully understood. If the Sacrament of Reconciliation is to be paid before it is administered, there might be more who will avail themselves of this sacrament.

A certain woman had terrible pains all over her body; however, no diagnosis could pinpoint the cause. After so many visits to the doctor, she simply gave up. Then one day this woman, while travelling with a group to a certain town, felt all of a sudden free from all the pains. Later in an interview with her, it came out that while on the way she discovered that she could forgive someone whom she had hated very much for so long.

Today there are many of us carrying heavy loads and are disoriented in life simply because we don’t know the good effect of forgiveness. We cannot even forgive ourselves. We have to learn that God, who can forgive sins so easily because He loves us, initiates forgiveness. So, if we really understand how much God loves us and how much He longs to forgive us our sins, we too, will easily forgive others, including ourselves.

The parable of the unforgiving servant shows how little the servant knows of the value of forgiveness offered by the master. The fault of his co-servant might have been less serious and yet he attacked him with impunity. If only he had learned how great sins were, and how gracious the master was, he would have learned how to forgive others and himself as well. (Fr. Carlos S. Lariosa, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

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Have you heard of Bush 3:20? “For Bush so hated Saddam that he sent his troops to Iraq, to pulverize Baghdad and to topple Saddam’s regime!” Mr. Bush attacked Iraq on March 20 (3:20) 2003. Hatred literally kills! How many innocent women and children were killed in Iraq, not to mention the soldiers from the allied forces and the Iraqi army? And how many more lives will be wasted if the hatred-filled terrorists, NPA, MILF, Abu Sayyaf and AFP will continue exterminating one another?

Jesus knows the effects of anger. We don’t have to go to Iraq or Mindanao to witness the gruesome effects of anger. It’s happening within our own family. Many marriages are broken because of unforgiveness. Good relationships turn sour because nobody wants to forgive.

External wars start from within oneself. Jesus gives us a solution to our problem. Do we want peace and harmony? Then, let’s “nip anger in the bud.” How? Through forgiveness! That’s the only sure way to peace, harmony and prosperity. Forgive immediately those who’ll inflict pain on us. How many times will I forgive? seven times? Not seven times but seven times seven times – unlimited forgiveness! This is the only solution if we want peace to reign in our heart, family, community, country and the world. (Fr. Glenn Paul Gomez, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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Concrete lessons in forgiveness are more powerful than mere pietistic verbal exhortations. Who would ever forget the late John Paul II spending 21 minutes in a white-walled cell in Rome’s Rebibidia Prison. He visited Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot him in St. Peter’s Square. He presented Agca with a silver rosary and something more: his forgiveness. The late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago was falsely accused of sexually molesting Steven Cook, an ex-seminarian at St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati, where the former was then Archbishop. Cardinal Bernandin was humiliated and suffered much especially from the relentless bashing by the media.

Steven Cook, who was then dying from Aids, recanted and declared Bernandin innocent; the Cardinal flew to Philadelphia to convey his forgiveness to his accuser and gifted him with a bible and even celebrated the Holy Mass with him. Nothing can compare with our Lord dying on the cross yet He still managed to say: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

The incapacity to forgive appears detrimental both to our spiritual wellbeing and to our physical health as well. Research in clinical psychology suggests that forgiveness reduces the stress of the state of unforgiveness, a potent mixture of bitterness, anger, hostility, hatred, resentment and fear (of being hurt or humiliated again). These have specific physiological consequences such as increase blood pressure and hormonal changes linked to cardiovascular disease, immune suppression and possibly, impaired neurological function and memory. The other benefit of forgiveness is more subtle, it relates to research showing that people with strong social networks of friends, neighbors and family, tend to be healthier than loners.

Jesus wants us to imitate the forgiving master in today’s parable. The genuine test of our Christian faith is our readiness to forgive. Love withstands anger and forgets offenses (1Cor 13:5). I don’t believe in God who looks for reasons to punish us for being less than perfect. God surely knows how complicated human life is, how difficult it is to be good person all the time. Even the best people cannot get everything right every time. God does not expect a perfect life but an honest effort at a good one. Life is not a test in which the passing grade is 100 percent and anything less is a failure.

Life, in a way, is complicated because we have to make decisions and choices and there is no guarantee that we always make the right turn. But God loves goodness more than perfection and appreciate our struggle to achieve good as morally preferable to our being programmed to be perfect. If God could not love flawed and imperfect people, then he would be very lonely because imperfect people are the only ones around. If we cannot accept, love and forgive people with all their imperfections, we condemn ourselves to frustration and loneliness as well. (Fr. Pabs Tagura, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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A missionary on the Pacific Island was surprised one day to see a woman enter his hut carrying a handful of sand which was still dripping water. “Do you know what this is?” she asked. The missionary answered: “It looks like sand.” “Well, these are my sins,” the woman explained, “my sins which are as countless as the sands of the sea. How can I ever obtain forgiveness for all of them?” “You got that sand by the shore, did you not?” said the missionary. “Well, take it back there and pile up a heaping mound of sand. Then sit back and watch the waves come in and wash the pile slowly but surely and completely away. That is how God’s forgiveness works. His mercy is as big as the ocean.” (From 100 Stories)

Forgiving others is for the Jews not only a duty to fulfil but also a part of their religious life as well.

In the book of Sirach, for example, it says: “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven,” (28:2).

The book of Job gives the number of times one ought to forgive other people, “Forgive man twice, three times,” (33:29). Most of the Jewish leaders during that time proposed that it was more than enough to forgive four times.

In today’s gospel, Peter, thinking of exceeding the teaching of the rabbis, proposes to forgive others seven times. But Jesus answers him: “No, not seven times but seventy times seven times.” In this case Jesus is asking His disciples to forgive other without limit.

This is beautifully shown in today’s gospel parable of the unforgiving servant. The servant owed his master a huge amount which neither he nor his family could afford to pay in a year. Yet the master wrote off all his debts.

It is but natural then that after he received forgiveness he too will show forgiveness to his fellow worker. But the story tells us that he was not. Instead, he had his fellow worker who owed far little than what he owed his master put into prison without delay. The gospel parable ends with a beautiful reminder, ‘My heavenly Father will punish severely those who do not forgive their brother from his heart.”

To forgive someone who has hurt us or caused seemingly irreparable damage in our life is a very difficult thing to do. For some people, the pain remains in the heart for so many years. Especially if the pain is so deep and is known to many people it is really difficult to forgive. But the gospel today challenges us to share in the divine life by endlessly forgiving our brothers or sisters from the heart.

Some points to help us change hate to forgiveness, evil to good. First, all of us, in one way or the other, are “debtors” before God. We fall down, we stumble, we sin against Him and our brothers and sisters. But God in His abounding love and mercy has forgiven us through Jesus Christ His Son. If God was able to forgive us “while we were still sinners,” how much more we to one another? We must therefore forgive one another because we were forgiven our “debts.” Secondly, we owe a lot from the Lord. Not only His mercy and love but other countless blessings we received from Him. It is but right that we feel indebted to Him. If we do not feel that we owe a lot from God then we can never learn how to forgive others. (Fr. Joks Galolo, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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March 1, 2016 Tuesday

The custom of the world is to return good for good, but the custom of the child of God is to return good for evil” (Vima Dasan, S.J.). Sadly, one could add that it is all too common to return even evil for good. The debtor in our parable received goodness and mercy beyond measure but he still went out and inflicted evil on his fellow servant. As a result, the mercy shown to him lost all its effect and he had to pay the price.

Mercy received and mercy given are strongly connected. We cannot really have one without the other, like love of God and love of neighbor. It also brings to mind the picture of the Last Judgement: “As often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to me” (Mt 25:45). An early Church writer puts it another way: “He who wants to be heard when he petitions should hear another who petitions him. … If he hopes for mercy, he should show mercy himself” (St. Peter Chrysologus).

Like Peter, we may want to put a limit on forgiveness. For him, seven times is very generous. But if we are to imitate the Master, it must be “seventy seven times,” i.e. without limit. We will often feel that this is just too much. Justice and accountability are important and God does not ignore them. But still the necessity of forgiveness remains, otherwise we are in danger of descending to the level of the aggressor and remaining under his/her power. When to forgive is really too hard for us, let us admit it, implore God’s grace, and not justify our refusal to forgive. Bringing the difficulty to God rather than to the social media is already the start of the forgiving process. No matter how long it takes to complete the process, God patiently and lovingly accompanies us. We can never hope to equal the mercy of God but, in his compassion, he accepts the efforts we make. (Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD | DWST Tagaytay City Bible Diary 2016)

rveritas-asia.org/index.php/daily-reflection/503-march-1-2016-tuesday

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HONEST CRIMINALS: When we commit sin there are always two parties involved – the offender and the offended. It is the same way in crime; we have the criminal and the victim.

The reading for today tells us how the criminal or offender and the victim or offended party, should act.

The criminal, offender or sinner, should tell the truth. There is no substitute for that. You may suffer from telling the truth but you will peace of mind. Those unwilling will not get a good night’s sleep. The advice to the offender is to tell the truth and stick to it. He should create another story, false accusation or blame others. He must assume responsibility for his crime, sin or offense.

On the other hand, the offended one should be compassionate and merciful – ready to pardon and forgive.

These are two points. The offended should always be merciful, while the offender should always tell the truth. All of us have been offended and all of us have offended somebody. What kind of an offender are you? Do you cover your offenses with lies? What kind of an offended one are you? Do you hold grudges and harden your heart even more?

Let us learn from the Lord. May we be truthful offenders. May we be compassionate offended ones. (Socrates Villegas DD, Jesus in my Heart, p. 38)

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IT IS HARD TO FORGIVE: Forgiveness is difficult not only for us, Christians, but also for those who belong to other religious sects. Forgiveness is difficult for us not only because of our religion or culture. The difficulty of forgiveness is our inheritance as human beings. everybody finds it hard to forgive.

The difficulty in forgiving involves not merely the moral question but physiological aspect as well. Forgiveness is actually a decision of the will, of the mind. It says, “I will not allow the hurts, the pains or the actuations of other people to color my relationship in the future.” It is a decision of the will. It is an act of the intellect to decide, “I will forgive.”

Unfortunately, emotions cannot catch up with the intellect. Herein lies the difficulty. We may have forgiven in our minds, but our feelings may not have done likewise. Our feelings cannot forgive. Although our intellect says, “I have forgiven,” the heart says, “No, I have not yet forgiven.” Therein lies the difficulty – we have forgiven with our head but our heart acts up and says, “Not yet.”

It is the nature of emotions to be very slow. We can decide instantly but our feelings take time to be conquered. Faced with the fact that it is difficult to forgive because our emotions cannot catch up with our decisions, the only thing we have to keep in mind is this: when we refuse to forgive, the first victim of unforgiveness is not the one seeking forgiveness, but we who deny forgiveness.

We are the first victims of unforgiveness, because one consequence of unforgiveness is high blood pressure. Unforgiveness results in the development of ulcers, or in ill health. Who would like to have ulcers? Who would like to have strokes? Who would like to suffer from high blood pressure? No one like all these, yet no one is always ready to forgive. The first victim of a hard heart is yourself. When you refuse to forgive., you punish yourself more than the other person.

Let us ask the Lord to make our head and our heart one. Our minds forgive a thousand times in the past but, unfortunately, our heart did not catch up. Our minds make the decisions yet the emotions and the feelings are still there. Hurt feelings persist. Let us ask the Lord not only for the grace to forgive but for the grace to have a heart that truly forgives. May our head and our heart be one in forgiveness. (Socrates Villegas DD, Only Jesus Always Jesus, pp. 171-172)

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UNFORGIVENESS EATS US UP:  There is an amusing twist about forgiveness. The Lord starts to preach about forgiveness, yet, He ends up by saying that those who will not forgive will be tortured.”Send him out to gnash his teeth.” Torture, as you know, is the highest form of unforgiveness.

On the other hand, perhaps there is actually no twist to the gospel because, you see, when we do not forgive, we become tortured. But, the torture is not inflicted on us by God.

When we do not forgive, the torture is inflicted on us by the priest who hears our sins. When you do not forgive, the torture comes to and from you. You inflict the penalty on yourself. You punish yourself. You rob yourself of peace and joy.

Christians who refuse to forgive, who harbour resentment in their hearts, who harbour bitterness inside themselves, torture, punish and rob themselves of so many graces. When you do not forgive, you become very irritable. When y(ou do not forgive, you become very grouchy. When you do not forgive, you acquire wrinkles. When you do not forgive, you are unable to sleep well.

Some years ago, I was riding in a car and bus bumped us. I was more angry than my driver. I angrily demanded payment for the damage from the bus driver, blaming him for the whole accident. The bus driver begged me and explained that he was new in the company. I did not want to hear any of his explanations and he told me the accident could cost him his job. He was worried about his family. Then, I paused for awhile and said, “Sige na  lang.” So we went away.

If I had insisted on refusing forgiveness to that bus driver perhaps on this day my heart would still be full of resentment. But thanks to the moment of God’s spirit, i just wrote-off what he owed me.

And then, there was inner peace. There was inner joy and I went away at peace with God, at peace with myself.

When you do not forgive, torture comes upon you and that torture does not come from God. It comes from your heart. You punish yourself, you rob yourself of peace.

All of us have people we do not like to forgive. All of us have in our hearts people who irritate us. Let us pray for such people today. Let us pray for ourselves; that our hearts maybe as forgiving as the heart of Jesus. (Socrates Villegas, Only Jesus Always Jesus, pp.183-184)

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TUESDAY OF THE 3RD WEEK OF LENT (YEAR B) – MATEO 18:21-35. NGANONG KINAHANGLAN MAN KITANG MAGPASAYLO SA UBAN? Si C.S. Lewis nag-ingon, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” Tinuod, ang pagpasaylo nindot lamang hunahunaon, apan lisod buhaton, ilabina kon kita masakitan pag-ayo sa laing tawo. Apan, si Kristo nagtudlo kanato karon pinaagi sa sambingay nga kinahanglan magpasaylo gayod kita sa isigkatawo tungod kay ang Dios maoy unang nagpasaylo kanato. Bisan lisod buhaton, atong himoon ang pagpasaylo tungod kay kini ang maghatag kanato’g kaluwasan dili lamang sa umaabot nga kinabuhi kondili sugod karon. Sakto si Lewis Smedes sa pag-ingon, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. Pinaagi sa pagpasaylo, ang ato mismong kaugalingon maoy nahimong gawasnon. Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2015/03/tuesday-of-3rd-week-of-lent-year-b.html

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March 01, 2016

REFLECTION: It is comforting for us, when we study the figure of Jesus, to note that he welcomes everybody and forgives every sin imaginable. Never at any time does he say to somebody: “I am very sorry, but this particular sin of yours is so grave that I cannot forgive it.” And that is indeed very reassuring for the sinners that we are.
However, there is an exception to Jesus’ willingness to forgive. And this is when he meets someone who will not forgive another person’s wrongdoing. That is the insurmountable obstacle which disconnects one from the divine circuit of forgiveness emanating from God. In other words, if I refuse to grant forgiveness to my neighbor who has wronged me, I cannot receive forgiveness from God whom I have wronged. Now why is this? It is because God insists that we imitate him. He has forgiven us, our mountains of sins (and still forgives us every day that comes along), and so we should forgive our neighbor his or her small molehill of sins. “Weren’t you bound to have pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” There is a divine circuit of forgiveness, and nothing must break it.

CLARETIAN COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATION, INC.

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schoolofthewordonline.com/scriptural-library/daily-gospel/english/item/3459-march-01-2016

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GOD IS BIGGER THAN OUR SINS

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant hits most of us close to home. Forgiveness is a struggle even for the most enlightened among us. Either we find it difficult to forgive or we grapple even with just the thought of asking someone for forgiveness.

So how should we bring ourselves to forgiving those who have offended us? If we are to draw our response from the parable, then what should motivate us is the fact that we are mere beneficiaries of God’s forgiveness. We cannot deny it to anyone because God did not deny us His forgiveness. “You should have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you” (Matthew 18:33). We look at ourselves and see our faults and how God has forgiven us. Then we turn to our brothers and show the same compassion and love that we have received from Him.

“I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to” (Matthew 18:32). “You asked me to” — could this be where we are being remiss, too? Forgiveness is readily available, but we refuse to ask God to grant it to us. Perhaps we see our sins as too grave to even consider asking pardon for them? Or we are afraid to approach the Lord and seek His forgiveness? Sometimes we see the gravity of our sins and think of ourselves as “beyond repair.” So we just remain in our sorry state and deny ourselves of something that God can easily give us.

Appearing to His disciples after the resurrection, Jesus said, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:23). Jesus has entrusted an office for us to approach as we seek God’s forgiveness. Do not see the immensity of your sins as a hindrance to approaching it. Look at how great our God is and never doubt that His greatness is bigger than any sin you may have committed. Trust that He’ll readily forgive you. Fr. Sandy V. Enhaynes

REFLECTION QUESTION: What is keeping you from approaching God in the confessional box?

Dearest Father, You know our weakness. Thank You for giving us the sacrament of reconciliation through which we can go back to You every time we have sinned. Amen.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2016-03-01 (2016.03.01)

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Tuesday, March 1

Dn 3:25, 34-43; Mt 18:21-35

Proportion

“Do to others, what you would have them do to you.” (Mt 7:12)

We see similarities in both the readings.

In the first reading, we hear the prayer of Azariah.  It is a prayer that he made before execution.  It is a prayer in danger.  It is a prayer before death.  He pleads for Lord’s mercy and protection.  He recalls to his mind, how the Lord saved his ancestors from dangers of enemies.  He professes God his faithfulness or promises to be faithful.  And if we read the rest of the story, we know that, those who heated the furnace died of heat but not Azariah and his companions.  The Lord hears his plea, shows mercy and protects them from the furnace.  Because of this wonder, Nebuchadnesar accepts the greatness of the Lord, accepts Him as saving God and proclaims it throughout his land.

In the gospel reading too we hear about a king, who shows mercy to an indebted servant, who owed him large sum of money, which he could not pay back.  The king heeds to his pleas, understands his situation, forgives him and declares him debt free.  If he were to pay back the amount, it would not be enough to work his rest of his life and pay the amount.  The king shows generosity.  As we read in the passage, he ‘took pity’.  He willed a decision to be generous.   Not after a while we see the same servant who received kindness, ‘refused’ (not willing) to show kindness.  He too made a conscious decision to harden his heart against the companion (refused to understand the situation of his fellow servant, refused to look the other side perspective), who owed him some money, which is in comparison with the amount, of which he was forgiven was very little.  Or it is not even worth comparing.

Dear friends, the message is crystal clear from both the readings.  Jesus demands forgiveness from the heart—a decision made with full consciousness.  Heart has a different logic.  It is not like mind.  Heart sees the other side, with the same feeling as it sees one’s own side.  In others’ weakness, it understands one’s own weakness.  It feels with the other.

In this holy season of lent, let us try to show mercy, kindness, and try to understand others from their perspective.  In every relationship we require forgiveness.  Let us begin to look from others’ view.  Then we can understand them better.  (Also others can see us better.)  Let us try to be generous in forgiving, also for-giving. Fr. John Antony Polisetty

navchetana.com/web/homilies.php?date=2016-03-1

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

OPTION  01,   02,   03,

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