Human vengeance, God’s mercy

Jesus’ teaching continues to challenge his disciples. Last Sunday, we heard him put into their hands the power to forgive sins – to bind and to loose. Peter’s reaction is a typically human one. How many times do I have to forgive my brother? Surely there has to be a limit? But Jesus wants to move the disciples on from a human way of thinking. The sum of money owed by the king’s servant in the parable is unimaginably large – impossible to repay. And yet the king releases him from his debt. This is how God’s mercy works. But the servant goes on to pursue one of his fellow servants, over a trivial sum. He hasn’t learned the lesson of forgiveness, but is stuck in human ways, demanding the last penny.

We can never pay back our debts to God. Every time we celebrate Mass, we remind ourselves that we are sinners, utterly dependent on God’s forgiveness. Having received mercy, we are challenged to become merciful ourselves; to allow God’s grace to transform us and to convert our hearts from hardness to compassion. Knowing that God has forgiven us, how can we refuse to forgive our brothers and sisters?

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