UNLI-FORGIVENESS

1st READING
Daniel 3:25, 34-43

PSALM
Psalm 25:4-5, 6, 7, 8, 9
R: Remember your mercies, O Lord.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. 23 That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. 25 Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. 26 At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ 27 Moved with compassion, the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. 28 When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.31 Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. 32 His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. 33 Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ 34 Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. 35 So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

think: “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

 
Reflection

The “unli” culture in Philippine setting was set off by the phenomenon of “unli-rice,” started by a famous chain that offered mainly roasted chicken dishes. Soon, more than rice was offered on an unlimited basis.

Today, the Gospel speaks of unli-forgiveness. This was a far cry from what—once upon a time—was the cap to forgiving others who repeat the same offense: the cap of three times. Beyond three, one had the right to withhold forgiveness. Or so the rabbis of old thought.

The Lord didn’t bat an eyelash answering Peter’s question: “How often must I forgive?” Without hesitation, the Lord answered, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” In short, there was no cap. It was a case of unli-forgiveness, a boundless willingness to forgive one’s brother (or sister).

Let us be honest. It flies in the face of earthly common sense and day-to-day experience. It is hard to ignore the way politicians ram down our throats their multiple agenda, always made to appear like the people’s will. It is hard to love—let alone forgive—those who consistently do us wrong or take advantage of us, or who continuously mislead us by doling out fake news, or by defending what is indefensible, simply because the dear leader has to be protected. It is hard to forgive those who have crossed us repeatedly, but who do not ever find it in their hearts to at least acknowledge their faults and wrongdoings. And in this age of runaway social media, populated by haters and flamers, it is hard to forgive those who do rash judgment on us on the basis of one honest post, just because you don’t belong to the group associated with those in power, or those who want to get back once more in power.

There is, to be honest, unli-hatred and non-acceptance in the world. People’s anger, especially in social media, seems to be limitless. The Lord tells us in no uncertain terms how not to be co-opted by the mainstream. Go “unli” in terms of forgiveness. Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

——- REFLECTION QUESTIONS ——-

Is there a person in your life who repeatedly does you wrong? What does today’s Gospel say to you?

Just as You repeatedly forgive me of my transgressions, Lord, may I find it in my heart to forgive others too. Amen.