September 17, 2017
We have here a debtor who owes his master ten thousand talents. Now a talent was an amount of money equal to one thousand denarii, and a denarius was a Roman silver coin equal to one day’s labor. Doing the arithmetic, the amount of the debt equaled ten million days’ wages.
Responding to the debtor’s request the king, in an act of subtle sensitivity, changes the obligation from a debt to a loan. Did you notice that in the reading? It tells us: “Move with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.” What is striking is that the debtor didn’t ask for forgiveness, he asked only for time to pay it back. Was he nuts? He must have been! How could he possibly think he could pay back the huge obligation he owed his master?
Setting aside the man’s psychiatric condition, let’s take a look at his spiritual state, which, of course, is what Jesus is talking about. We should also keep in mind that Jesus is talking about your spiritual condition as well as mine. All of Jesus’ parables are not about other people, they are about us.
And the point? The debtor was concerned only about observing the dictates of the law. His arrogant self-righteousness remained. His focus was only on himself. There was no change the debtor’s heart, only an attempt to manipulate laws, rules and regulations.
Jesus wants us to see that forgiveness is liberating. It is the most liberating for the one doing the forgiving. Forgiveness allows us to walk in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God, not as children of the law.
Living under the law leads us to “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” approach. Living under the law leads us to living with an attitude that seeks retribution and justice alone without any change in our hearts. We cling to resentments in horrible prisons of pent-up anger, in the grip of resentments and in our lust to “get even.” This throws us into victimhood. We feel like we are victims and seek ways to find just compensation, revenge and retribution. We live under the law.
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead… victim no longer. He is totally free because He is totally forgiving. He teaches us to ask God to “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” As is the controlling word – we will be forgiven to the length, height and depth that we measure our forgiveness to others, all the while remembering that the people we forgive are forgiven only if they repent, convert their hearts, and then actually accept forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not “selling out;” it’s not saying that what people have done to us is somehow “okay,” or that it does not matter. Forgiveness liberates us from the ways of this world; it takes us into the heart of God. To forgive is truly divine, and the presence of God is something we all desperately need in our lives, particularly in the days in which we presently live.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sojan Punakkattu