Third Week of Lent

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Matthew 18:21–35

Friends, today’s Gospel gives us the parable of the unforgiving servant, which reveals what is at the root of our inability to forgive.

In the deepest sense, we don’t belong to ourselves. Everything we have and all that we are comes from God. We are meant, with all of our gifts, to serve God’s purposes. Our very existence comes from God, but so does the forgiveness of our sins. Through no merit of ours, Christ has died for our sins and offered us the divine mercy. The upshot is this: there is nothing particularly stable about the self, nothing that it can claim for its own. All that it has is received as a gift.

Well, the incapacity to forgive comes from one place: a false sense of the substantial self. If my life belongs to me, then I will cling to resentment, anger, and self-righteousness when my dignity has been compromised. But when we realize that our life is not about us—when we put our forgiveness of others in relation to God’s forgiveness of us—then we find that real forgiveness is possible.

Reflect: Think of the last time you had difficulty forgiving someone. How did your sense of your own “substantial self” make you hesitant to forgive?

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