Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Aug.12, Lectionary 416. Ezekiel 12:1-2. Psalm
78:56-57.58-59.61-62. Matthew 18:21-19:1:
“Seventy times seven!” Wow! That is a tremendous amount of forgiving that
we are told to do by Jesus. We may wish to start today, but not do the
counting, just the forgiving. Jesus is showing Peter how to love his
fellow disciples and apostles. He is being called to always forgive them–a
sure sign that the love of Jesus is present. It is so different from the
movie and book which tells us “Love, means you never have to say you are
sorry!” It is only love that prompts us to forgive others no matter how
many times we have been offended and it means saying “I am sorry” when we
have offended someone by word or deed.
Married people are tested in this area more frequently than the religious
vowed people who do not live so close together as do those who are in the
covenant of love and sacrament of martrimony. Their life together is
constantly being put to the test in so many ways in a family setting. Much
love has to be present to continue in the covenant and to forgive as often
as one is offended. Communication is important and not harming one another
by stubborn silence.
Jesus not only helps Peter to understand his role as leader in this act of
forgiveness through the detailed stories he tells about the servants who
are asked to report their spending and their account keeping to the king.
The story is situated within the perspective of the kingdom of God and thus
also has an ecclesial and eschatological purpose for all times. His story
is fresh and prompts us to take sides with the king over against the lack
of forgiveness found in the servant who has been forgiven a large debt.
Trust that the other person will accept our asking for forgiveness prompts
us to forgive and to do it with the type of love that Jesus demands of us
as his followers. In a sense, this is “tough love” that is effective. It
is part of the ideal of love called “agape.” The great number of times we
are asked to forgive is a good lesson of how important this gift of
forgiveness is. It makes us think in a broader perspective than our own
limited vision would do. We are called to be wholesome people who act out
of such forgiving love at all times. Peter learned how to ask forgiveness
when he offended the Lord and Jesus made sure he understood that love is at
the bottom of forgiveness as he asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
Through the great prayer Jesus has given us in which we call God our Father
we have an opportunity to pray it several times today and remind ourselves
that Jesus is asking each of us “Do you love me?” We love Jesus when we
forgive those who have offended us, when we ask for forgiveness and when we
are insightful enough to forgive ourselves. Amen.