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Your daily forgiveness | Gospel of September 17

By 13 September, 2023No Comments
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Gospel according to Saint Matthew 18,21-35:

Peter asked Jesus, «Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?». Jesus answered, «No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants. Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand gold ingots. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, children and all his goods in payment. The official threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything’. The king took pity on him and not only set him free but even canceled his debt.
»This official then left the king’s presence and he met one of his companions who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost strangled him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!’. His companion threw himself at his feet and asked him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything’. The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt.

»His companions saw what happened. They were indignant and so they went and reported everything to their lord. Then the lord summoned his official and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed when you begged me to do so. Weren’t you bound to have pity on your companion as I had pity on you?’. The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt». Jesus added, «So will my heavenly Father do with you unless each of you sincerely forgive your brother or sister».

Your daily forgiveness

Luis CASASUS President of the Idente Missionaries

Rome, September 17, 2023 | XXIV Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sir: 27,33—28,9; Rom 14:7-9; Mt 18:21-35

Russian writer Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932-2017), wrote in his memoirs:

The sidewalks were crowded with onlookers, cordoned off by soldiers and policemen. The crowd was composed mostly of women, Russian women with hands roughened by hard work, and thin hunched shoulders that had borne half the burden of war. Each of them must have had a father or a husband, a brother or a son killed by the enemy soldiers. They were looking hatefully in the direction the column was about to appear.

At last we saw them. The generals marched at the head, their chins prominent, their lips bent in disdain, their whole bearing intended to show superiority over their vanquished. “They stink, those devils,” someone in the crowd said hatefully. Women clenched their fists. The soldiers and policemen were doing their best to hold them back.

Suddenly, something happened to them. They saw enemy soldiers, skinny, unshaven, with dirty bandages stained with blood, limping on crutches or leaning on the shoulders of their comrades; the soldiers walked with their heads down. The street fell into a sepulchral silence; the only sound was the shuffling of boots and the clattering of crutches.

Then I saw an old woman with broken boots step forward and touch the shoulder of a policeman, saying: Let me pass. There must have been something about her that forced the policeman to step aside. She approached the column, pulled out from inside her coat something wrapped in a colored handkerchief and unfolded it. It was a crumb of black bread. He stuffed it clumsily into the pocket of a soldier, so exhausted that he was staggering on his feet. And then, from all sides, women began to run toward the soldiers, putting bread, cigarettes… whatever they had into their hands. The soldiers were no longer enemies. They were people.

That reminds me of a question that a young Ecuadorian, intelligent and sensitive, asked me a few days ago: Many beautiful and true things are said about forgiveness, but how does one begin to forgive?

It occurred to me to answer him: With your eyes. And I told him about the experience of one of our parishioners, who was driving his pickup truck and had to make an abrupt maneuver to avoid colliding with a vehicle that unexpectedly crossed his path at a speed much higher than the allowed. He recounted that all sorts of thoughts occurred to him until, a few meters ahead, the driver stopped in front of the hospital door and hurriedly pulled his daughter, who was bleeding with a serious head wound, out of the back seat.

Obviously, this good parishioner had occasion to look more deeply into the reality of the anguished father who committed many imprudent acts with the sole intention of saving a loved one.

In fact, in the Old Testament, many times the plea to Yahweh begins with a request for a compassionate look, hoping to be contemplated not only as sinners, but rather as a suffering and needy people:

Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our ancestors (Deut 26:15).


But Christ’s teaching in today’s parable takes our gaze much further. He invites us to realize that we are constantly being forgiven by God. And this is our permanent mystical experience; we may have impressions of being comforted or of understanding the truths of the Gospel somewhat better, but divine forgiveness is always a constant, for it constantly holds us by its side, whatever our response.

Forgiveness, according to the Gospel, is not limited to “not being angry” with the offenses or mistakes of others. I believe that its essential characteristic is to incorporate, to integrate, to welcome those who offend or go astray. Jesus clearly described this attitude in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Surely this is why, because authentic forgiveness is active, creative, constructive, it is so difficult for us to live it.

Yes, our experience of forgiveness received is manifested in this way in the mystical life, in our immediate relationship with the Divine Persons.

* Beatitude, or beatific state, is the peace of he who feels accompanied, in the midst of internal and external difficulties. God our Father contemplates us and comforts us from the moment we are aware of his presence, which changes everything and illuminates everything.

* The Affliction represents an intimate relationship in which the Divine Persons unite with the ascetic, making him share their concerns, their pain for humanity, in particular for those who are close to us. It is a request of the Holy Spirit, telling us: Look at each person as I look at them, as I look at you.

* The Gift of Piety gives our way of loving the flavor of mercy, of contemplating every human being as a pilgrim, as someone who walks painfully towards his true home, necessarily committing clumsiness, mistakes… like those that fill your life and mine.

Christ explained and lived in a thousand ways that way of forgiving, welcoming Peter after his denial, Thomas when he doubted, the adulterous woman who was condemned by all, the thieves who insulted Him on Golgotha….


We sometimes say that, in reciting the Our Father, and beseeching God the Father to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” we make a kind of commitment to force ourselves to be merciful. Undoubtedly, this is one of the lessons of today’s parable, where the terrible end is not what God will do with us, but an image, typical of the preachers of Jesus’ time to highlight the importance of a message and, in this case, to urge us not to lose the graces received and the testimony we give by forgiving our neighbor. In fact, there is no better thermometer to know if I have taken advantage of the grace received from God than the measure of my forgiveness to all, for small or big offenses.

But the offenses for which we ask to be forgiven are not only those we have committed in the past, but also those of the future, being more and more aware of the distance between our Father’s love for us and our poor response.

We are and will always be debtors of our heavenly Father, at the same time that we lament and complain about the evil done to us by others. There is no doubt that today’s parable is a faithful portrait of each one of us. As ancient wisdom used to say: Seven times the righteous falls and rises again, but the wicked sink in disgrace (Prov 24: 16).

The First Reading today illustrates the worst consequence of not sincerely forgiving: If a man bears a grudge against another, can he perhaps ask the Lord for health? This grave consequence is not a supposed “punitive response” from God, but an interruption of our dialogue with Him. To put it in vulgar words, we block the mouth of the Holy Spirit. This terrible reality explains our distance from God. In this sense, it is true that affirmation (which has no absolute value) that forgiving another means forgiving myself, because by freeing my neighbor from his past errors, I free myself from that barrier that separates me from a true dialogue with God.

The teaching of Sirach is simple, based on experience, and places us on the threshold of the kingdom of heaven, of an ever-increasing state of union with God.

As it is often said, forgiveness is not something human, but divine. That is why I must have recourse to prayer if I truly intend to imitate Christ and live a full life, inspired by the Spirit. Again and again I must beg for the strength to forgive, for there will be in you and me, in any person, traits of victimhood, of being convinced that we are innocent, that we suffer constant aggressions from almost everyone.

Some psychologists have identified this victimhood as a form of narcissism of those who try to manipulate and abuse others in this way. Being aware of this is important to help and accompany souls on their spiritual path, for those who insist on proclaiming their victimhood will complain that “no one understands or values their proposals”, “they are always misunderstood and not listened to”. Thus they come to believe themselves morally superior and …and never remember having offended anyone.

Finally, they will find a form of revenge, more or less direct, with actions or defamations, but always causing pain like that caused by the merciless servant in the parable, who had deprived his debtor of the joy of living.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation makes us more aware of the wrong we have done and also of the grace we receive through forgiveness and absolution. The simple act of asking for forgiveness, even for a small and insignificant mistake, unites us to our neighbor and to God.

This explains why the Second Reading, in its brevity, gives us a principle to be remembered every day: If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Beyond a moral warning, St. Paul confirms that nothing can satisfy us, neither being right, nor seeing any fruit of our efforts, nor gratitude, nor any kind of applause. Only the growing awareness that, at the end of the day, we can say: Father, I don’t know if I succeeded, but I wanted to give you every moment of this day.


In the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,