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. 


3rd Week of Lent – Tuesday – Mt 18:21-35


After Jesus grants the power to forgive sins to the Apostles, Peter, continuing to show why Jesus chose him to be the leader of His Church, 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 the infinite magnitude of forgiveness from the Cross, when He forgives His murderers.

Stressing the forgiveness imperative, Jesus offers the parable of The Unmerciful Slave. A King has riches and power so immeasurable that one of His slaves owes Him billions of dollars (10,000 talents was equal to 200,000 years of labor). After reckoning 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 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, rebukes his lack of mercy and turns 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 and 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, seek to love, and forgive their fellow men. 

Have great sorrow for sin and be forgiven

Realize: While a man may think his sins are unforgivable because of their graveness and number, Jesus has granted supernatural power to His Church to forgive the most grievous sins of every Catholic man who sincerely repents and receives the Sacrament of Penance. 

Believe: Reflect upon the power to forgive found in Christ’s Holy Catholic Church (CCC 981-987, 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 joy and relief of being reconciled with You.

Beg for the Spirit to help you forgive everyone

Realize: Feelings of resentment, anger, disgust, ridicule, condemnation, and revenge are signs that a Catholic man has failed to forgive those who “trespassed against” him. 

Believe: Reflect upon the need to Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us (CCC 1425, 2842-2845).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruit of Love so I realize my failures to forgive and receive the supernatural help of the Spirit to love and truly forgive every person who has ever sinned against me.