Today we hear the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant from the Gospel of Matthew 18:21-35, in which the Apostle Peter asked Jesus how many times should we forgive someone who has wronged us, offering what he thought was a generous number of seven. Jesus said that we must forgive seventy times seven, much unlike the Old Testament Jews who felt you must forgive three times but no further.
One of the most important teachings and tenets of the Christian faith is to freely forgive others of their transgressions. We are to forgive others from the heart. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught His followers to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” Matthew 6:12.
St. John Chrysostom, whose liturgy we celebrate each Sunday in our Church, states, “two things therefore does God here require, both to condemn ourselves for our sins and to forgive others, and the former for the sake of the latter, that this may become more easy (for he who considers his own sins is more indulgent to his fellow servant), and not merely to forgive with the lips, but from the heart…). (Homily on Matthew)
The New Testament has numerous passages which serve to inspire us on the theme of Forgiveness, but one of the most memorable is from Ephesians 4:31-32 which entreats us to be rid of all bitterness, passion and anger…instead, we must be kind and tender hearted to one another and forgive one another as God has forgiven us through Christ”.
Let us heed the words of Our Lord and become forgiving and loving Christians as this parable entreats us to be.