“With a contrite heart and a humble spirit may we be accepted.”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel (Daniel 3:2.11-20)
In those days: Azariah stood and offered this prayer; in the midst of the fire he opened his mouth and said: “For your name’s sake do not give us up utterly, and do not break your covenant, and do not withdraw your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham your beloved and for the sake of Isaac your servant and Israel your holy one, to whom you promised to make their descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the shore of the sea. For we, O Lord, have become fewer than any nation, and are brought low this day in all the world because of our sins. And at this time there is no prince, or prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, no place to make an offering before you or to find mercy. Yet with a contrite heart and a humble spirit may we be accepted, as though it were with burnt offerings of rams and bulls, and with tens of thousands of fat lambs; such may our sacrifice be in your sight this day, and may we wholly follow you, for there will be no shame for those who trust in you. And now with all our heart we follow you, we fear you and seek your face. Do not put us to shame, but deal with us in your forbearance and in your abundant mercy. Deliver us in accordance with your marvellous works, and give glory to your name, O Lord!”
The Word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 25:4-Sab.6 and 7cd.8-9 (R. 6a)
R/. Remember your compassion, O Lord.
O Lord, make me know your ways.
Teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth, and teach me;
For you are the God of my salvation. R.
Remember your compassion, O Lord,
and your merciful love,
for they are from of old.
In your merciful love remember me,
Because of your goodness, O Lord. R.
R/. Remember your compassion, O Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord;
he shows the way to sinners.
He guides the humble in right judgement;
To the humble he teaches his way. R.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Joel 2:12-13
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, for I am gracious and merciful. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
If you do not forgive your brother from your heart, the Father will not forgive you,
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 18:21-35)
At that time: Peter came up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 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. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything. ’ “And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 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.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ “He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 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. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
In this third week of Lent we are reminded once again to forgive one another from our hearts. A talent was the equivalent of 6,000 denarii, and a day’s wage is just one denarius. Now to gain 6,000 denarii (one talent) one would have to work for 6,000 days, which is roughly 16 years. The unforgiving debtor in today’s parable owned not just a talent but 10,000 talents, which is the equivalent of 164,383.56 years of labor. He was thus pardoned for a debt he couldn’t pay in his lifetime, even if his family and possessions were sold besides. But he refused to forgive another who owned him just 100 denarii (three and half month’s wages). We are all debtors to the king of kings who has already pardoned us for debts we can never dream of paying back. Why then can’t we forgive others who owe us far less?