Sunday, September 11, 2011

Forgiveness

The message of today's gospel is pretty clear: how many times must I forgive?  77 times 7, in other words: we should be infinitely forgiving, because God is infinitely forgiving.  If we want to be forgiven, forgive.

Then Jesus uses a parable that must have been absolutely shocking to his first hearers.  A king decides to settle debts, that we could see happening.  But, this is where the story gets interesting.  It is clear that we should all see ourselves as this first servant, this is Jesus' intention.  The lectionary tells us that the servant owed the king a great amount.  Why does it do this???  This is not a translation of the text, rather this is an interpretation.  The text just says 10,000 talents.  Now, you have probably heard many homilies that tell you that talents are our gifts and experiences.  But, this is not true!  A talent is an amount of money: 1 years wages for a worker.  This means that the king was owed 10,000 years wages.  If you make 40,000 per year that is a total of 400 million dollars: a staggering amount.  Remember we are supposed to see ourselves in this servant.  The truth, if we ever get around to facing it, is that we have all sinned, we all need God's mercy.  We all owe God big time.  But, of course, we can never pay God back.  So God, through Jesus, forgives us.  If we remember our debt to God for the forgiveness he gives us through Jesus, it should be easy to forgive.  But, if we find it hard to forgive others it might be because we fail to see our own sinfulness, our own need for forgiveness.  If we fail to see our own need for forgiveness, if we fail to ask God for forgiveness, why would he forgive us?

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