24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sirach 27:30-28:7 II:
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;
25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'
27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, 'Pay what you owe.'
29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'
30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.
31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me;
33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'
34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.
35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
(v.21) The rabbi at that time taught to forgive up to three times, Peter was more willing to suggest forgiving seven times, the number seven symbolized the perfection.
(v.22) "Seventy times seven times" can be understood as 77 times or as many as 490 times. Regardless of the number of times, the emphasis is that there is no limit, no condition in the willingness to forgive.
(v.23) As in the Old Testament, servants were not only slaves but also court officials or ministers. In this parable, the servants could refer to tax gatherers or finance ministers.
(v.24) "Ten thousand talents" was an astronomical sum of money, the annual revenue of Herod's kingdom was about 900 talents. A talent was worth between 6,000 to 10,000 denarii depending upon its contents and origin. A denarious (v.28) is one day's pay.
(v.26) The servant made an empty promise to pay back to the king in full given the size of the debt.
(v.28) Compared with the debt of 10,000 talents, 100 denarii (100 days' wages) was a paltry sum that could be easily paid back if the servant showed patience.
The parable of the unforgiving servants set out three encounters:
(a) between the king and his servant,
(b) between the servant and his fellow servant, and once again
(c) between the king and the servant.
One Main Point
If one wants mercy from God, be merciful to others. If one exacts justice from others, expect the same from God.
- Position yourself as one of the three persons in the parable: the king, the servant, or the fellow servant. What do you hear? How do you feel? What is your reasoning in each encounter?
- What is the main motive to forgive? Why do I have to forgive always? What do I gain or lose when forgiving?
- Jesus taught us in Our Lord's prayer "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those whose trespass against us." Recall on what occasions and to whom you forgave, compare with the mercy you received from God in the sacrament of reconciliation.
- How do you feel when someone forgives you or you forgive someone?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community