For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091717.cfm
In our Gospel this weekend Jesus talks about the difficult subject of forgiveness. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I believe forgiveness is one of the hardest things we have to do as Christians. Yet in our Gospel this weekend, Jesus, in response to a question from Peter about whether we are to forgive as many as seven times, states clearly: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” For the Jews of this time, this number would have symbolized forgiveness without end. After startling Peter and the other disciples with this number, Jesus then told the parable of the owner who forgave the loan of a servant who owed him a huge amount of money. Unfortunately, that servant refused to forgive the loan of a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount, and instead had him thrown into prison. At the conclusion of the parable Jesus offers the ominous conclusion: “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
What are we to take from this Gospel? Three things come immediately to mind. 1. As Christians, forgiveness is not an optional part of our lives; 2. We can’t expect or ask God to forgive us unless we are willing to forgive one another; and 3. The forgiveness we offer to each other must be real and sincere.
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of Sirach. It shares the theme of the Gospel. In the section we read today we are reminded: “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”
In our second reading this weekend, Paul reminds us that “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord;”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Why, at times, is it so hard to forgive?
- What helps you to forgive?
- What does it mean to live for the Lord?