Today’s Gospel is about forgiveness. It shows us that although God is always ready to forgive us, we are not always willing to forgive others.
When Peter asked Jesus, if it was sufficient to forgive someone for seven times, he most probably expected to be praised for his mercy and generosity. Instead, Jesus asks for much more than this and uses the parable of the king and the unforgiving servant to illustrate the matter. The generosity and mercy of the king is shown in forgiving the incredibly enormous debt of his servant, the amount was so huge that it was impossible for the servant to repay. However, when this same servant meets with a friend who owed him a much smaller and incomparable amount of money, instead of remembering the mercy shown to him, he shows no clemency.
On hearing this parable, one wonders how the servant could behave like that, after the king had forgiven his massive debt. We can however, put ourselves instead of the servant. Was there any time when we needed to be forgiven? What were our thoughts? Most probably we had a thousand reasons ready to justify our forgiveness.
Was there anytime when we were hurt by someone’s behaviour? Were we ready to forgive this person? Peter was generous indeed when he offered to forgive the same person seven times!
Is it easier for us to find the reasons why we should be forgiven, than reasons why we should forgive someone else?
God’s ways are different. He is ready to forgive us, always, irrespectively of our sin. If we show that we are sorry, if we repent, God forgives us. Like the king, God expects that we forgive others seventy-seven times. Jesus’ reply to Peter, shows that there should not be a limit to the amount of times that we forgive a person. God wants us to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. If we do not do this, it is not God who does not forgive us, but it is ourselves who cannot accept the fact that God has in fact forgiven us. We must forgive, in the same way God forgives us. This is an integral part of Christian living. We realise that the condition imposed for our forgiveness is not imposed by God, but it is something which is self-inflicted. Are we ready to repent and accept God’s forgiveness? Are we ready, to forgive those who have sinned against us, the same way that God forgives?
As to reconciliation, there must be a willingness from both parties. There is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. There can be forgiveness without reconciliation. To be reconciled with God, I must repent, I need to convert and change my way of living. To be reconciled with those who have hurt me, I need to be ready to forgive; the other person has to be sorry and tries to make amends where possible, or vice versa if it was I who wronged someone. Forgiveness comes from the injured party; reconciliation needs action from both sides.
When we forgive, it does not mean that I have accepted wrong behaviour or injustices. We need to be able to forgive. But we cannot condone that which is wrong. The king was ready to forgive the servant, but the servant was not ready to repent, and his behaviour with his fellow servant, is proof to this.