© Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church 2010

Twenty - fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 17, 2017

I think most of us have heard the old saying, “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you”.  That’s a reference to someone trying to sell an unsuspecting new comer a busy bridge, with the idea that if this new comer buys the bridge, he can charge a toll and live happily and easily for the rest of his life on the tolls he collects.  The problem is, the person selling the bridge doesn’t own it and is only selling a story, trying to sell that which is not theirs to sell.  
Jesus tells a parable today of an unforgiving servant. He has amassed a huge debt, and begs the king’s forgiveness. The king even grants him forgiveness. But the servant very quickly forgets how he has been forgiven. He forgets all about what he owes, and pays attention only to what he is owed. Except that the king has just assumed the servant’s debts, so whatever another servant owes to him is really owed to the king. If the servant had taken a moment to appreciate how his debt had been taken up, he would not have treated others as he did. The proper response would have been to say “your debt is no longer to me, but to the king—but just as he forgave me, so he might also forgive you.” The servant had been bought, as it were—his life was not his own, and his debts were not his own either.
St. Paul makes it very clear in the second reading that “no one lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself”.  At the end of the day, “we are the Lord’s” and as a result, we do not belong to ourselves—which means that nothing we have belongs to us, because the debt of salvation was paid by Jesus and there is nothing we can give to God that is equal to what He paid for our freedom.  
We were bought by the Paschal Mystery—the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The more we consider the Passion of Jesus, the more we can see what a price was paid for us. Jesus made up for our disobedience with His perfect obedience. He made up for our sinfulness by putting it in touch with His goodness and perfect holiness. Other people may have done us wrong, but none of us is without sin. As a result, we have done God wrong. As we think about the loyalty we owe to God—but cannot give—we should see Jesus has paid our debt for us, which means, our debt is not our own.  
Bearing this in mind and reflecting upon the wrong, someone may have done against us, any feelings we may experience, that we somehow have a right to hold a grudge against another, should melt away when we think about how God could have held a grudge against us, but gave it up out of pure love for us. We racked up a pretty substantial debt ourselves, and God not only forgave it, but raised us up to even greater glory by sending His Son who paid the debt of sin for us and as a result, calls us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Because of what has been done for us by God, we are not in the best position to complain about what has been done to us by other humans or to withhold forgiveness when it is necessary.
No matter how much of a debt someone else racks up against us, it will never really compare to the debt we racked up against God. Thus Jesus tells Peter to “forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times”. In other words: we do not keep score when we forgive, because it is really not our score to keep. If we remember this and show mercy, God will show mercy to us. If we insist on treating offenses like a matter of accounting, God will take us to account. But God does not want to take us to account. He wants to take our accounts on Himself. He wants to take the debts and the anger and the grudges of our lives onto Himself. Through the Cross, God not only set us free from worrying about any debt we might owe to Him, but from worrying about any debt another might owe to us. If we remember what the Cross has done for us, we can  then forgive and therefore be set free.