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Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 September 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 18: 21-35

I recently re-visited The Forgiveness Book by Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau. Published in 2008, it remains the most beautiful book on forgiveness I’ve ever read. And it nudges me to ask some questions about how things got so out of hand with the master and his servant in this parable.

How on earth did that servant rack up a debt of what would be a billion dollars today? And how did the master let the debt get that high in the first place? Well, since the Master is God, and the servant is us, the answer is easy.  Thousands of years of greed, of using the earth as our personal slave, and the willful turning away from the Golden Rule have created our unfathomable debt.

Now, the other guy in the parable owed the servant the equivalent of a quarter of a year’s income. That’s a figure we can visualize. That represents a loss of three months’ rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries, and Netflix. That hurts. That’s money we want to get back, and we can get pretty aggressive in hounding the one who owes it until we finally recover it, usually in nickels and dimes.

The first servant, the one with the huge debt, was a sinner. Yes, our hearts break when he and his wife and children are sold as repayment of that debt, but wouldn’t they have to be sold thousands of times in order to get close to what he owed? See, that’s us. There’s nothing we can do to repay God for our purposely hardened hearts. Unless, maybe, we start softening them through the redemptive acts of forgiving the smaller debts owed to us.

When was the last time you forgave someone? Did you feel your heart softening as you did?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Ordinary Time - Cycle A

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