Theme of the Sunday: Forgiveness without Limit. The gospel of today is from the last part of chapter 18 which, as we saw last Sunday, deals with the problems of Matthew’s communities. Today it emphasises forgiveness. How should Christians deal with those who offend them? Should they retaliate? Not even once? Both the gospel passage and the first reading say clearly that the only possible Christian attitude is one of forgiveness. The second reading is connected to this; it recommends patience in dealing with those who hold opinions different from ours.
Entrance Antiphon cf.36:1
Give peace, O Lord, to those who wait for you, that your prophets be found true. Hear the prayers of your servant, and of your people Israel.
Look upon us, O God, Creator and ruler of all things, and, that we may feel the working of your mercy, grant that we may serve you with all our heart. Through our Lord. ..
“Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be forgiven when you pray.”
A reading from the Book of Sirach (Sirach 27:30-28:7)
Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, and the sinful man will possess them. He that takes vengeance will suffer vengeance from the Lord, and he will firmly establish his sins. Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. Does a man harbor anger against another, and yet seek for healing from the Lord? Does he have no mercy towards a man like himself, and yet pray for his own sins? If he himself, being flesh, maintains wrath, will he then seek forgiveness from God? Who will make expiation for his sins? Remember the end of your life, and cease from enmity, remember destruction and death, and be true to the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbour; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook ignorance.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm103:1-2.3-4.9-10.ll-12(R.8)
R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all within me, his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And never forget all his benefits. R.
It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion. R.
He will not always find fault;
nor persist in his anger forever.
He does not treat us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our faults. R.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So strong his mercy for those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far from us does he remove our transgressions. R.
“Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (Romans14:7-9)
Brethren: None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
The word of the Lord.
Alleluia. A new commandment I give to you, says the Lord, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Alleluia.
“I do not say to you that you forgive seven times but seventy times seven.”
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 seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven maybe 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.
Forgiveness is the pill for every ill. To forgive seventy times seven, is to forgive without limit. When your spouse or sibling offends you, when your colleagues mock you, when your teacher or lecturer hurts you badly, when your parents or neighbours accuse you falsely, when people don’t appreciate what you do but deliberately misunderstand you, when you are called names and castigated, the Lord who is the great physician teaches that we should take a dosage of his pill called FORGIVENESS as often as occasions arise. This is for self-healing and for liberating others from the tomb of our hearts. Remember: “this is how my Father in heaven will treat everyone of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”