Jesus warns of the necessity of forgiveness and the horrible consequences for those who refuse to forgive in the Parable of the Unmerciful Slave. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Piety from the Holy Spirit so he can have great sorrow for his sins and be forgiven and by seeking the Fruit of Love so he can be helped by the Holy Spirit to forgive others. 


19th Week in Ordinary time – Thursday – Mt 18:21-19:1


After Jesus grants the Apostles the power to forgive sins, Peter, continuing to demonstrate his leadership, asks for clarity about the limits of forgiveness; Jesus’ reply, “70 times 7”, means unlimited forgiveness. Elsewhere, Jesus reveals a man’s own forgiveness depends on his willingness to forgive others (The Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”) and Jesus demonstrates His infinite magnitude for forgiveness from the Cross (“Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do”).  

Jesus offers the parable of The Unmerciful Slave. A King has riches and power so immeasurable that one of His servants owes Him billions of dollars (10,000 talents in today’s values is 200,000 years of labor). After reckoning of accounts, the King requires the slave, his entire family, and all his possessions be sold in partial payment of his almost infinite debt. In desperation, the slave kneels and begs, desperately promising to pay his impossible debt. The King, viscerally moved by the slave’s repentant plea, forgives the slave’s entire debt.   

The newly freed slave, forgetting forgiveness, encounters a fellow slave who owes him several thousand dollars (100 denarii/about three months wages). Despite the small level of debt, he chokes the man, demanding payment. The second slave, as did the first, falls to his knees and begs for time to pay his entire debt. Instead of mercy, the first casts the second slave into prison. Fellow slaves report the injustice to the King who confronts the evil slave, rebuking him for his lack of mercy and turning him over to the jailers (literally, “torturers”) until his entire debt is repaid, an impossibility (an allusion to the eternal torture of Hell). Jesus confirms the frightening reality of brutal punishment for those who fail to forgive others: “So also My heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Soberly reflect upon the encouraging and frightening aspects of God that Jesus reveals in the parable: Jesus reveals His Divine Charity, through the Forgiveness (a Spiritual Work of Mercy), He offers men who repent of sin and seek to love others; as demanded by His Divine Justice, Jesus is a Judge who will Condemn men (eternal torture) who fail to believe, repent from sin and seek to love and forgive their fellow men. 

Have great sorrow for sin and be forgiven

Realize: Like the Unmerciful Servant, each man has an infinite debt to God that he can never repay (a man’s priceless value of being alive; countless sins of commission and omission). 

Believe: Reflect upon Forgive Us Our Trespasses (CCC 1439, 1441, 1449, 2839-2841).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Piety so I burn with remorse for having offended the Father by my many sins, seek Christ’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, and feel the great happiness and relief of being reconciled with You.

Seek the Spirit’s help to forgive grievous sinners

Realize: While forgiving a man who commits a small sin against another is possible, Jesus’ call to forgive even the most grievous of sins seems impossible; as Jesus forgives the worse sin possible from the Cross, He confirms His desire that men forgive those who commit great sins. 

Believe: Review the need to Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us (CCC 1425, 2843-2845).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruit of Love so I realize my failures to forgive and receive Your supernatural help to love and truly forgive those who have grievously sinned against me.