By Jim Orcutt, Co-Founder of My Brother's Keeper

These personal reflections on the Monday gospel represent my insight of Christ’s message as viewed through the lens of my life experience. It is my hope that others will be inspired to reflect upon their views as well.
Date: March 1, 2016
March 1, 2016

Gospel MT 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Reflection:

Often we refuse to forgive because we feel we are the one who is owed an apology.

We may think we are punishing the person who wronged us by not forgiving them.

Forgive them anyway!

By refusing to forgive, we may spend a lifetime beating ourselves with the stick of anger and resentment.

Alcoholics Anonymous suggests an approach called “making amends” as a way to be set free from the self imposed agony of our failure to forgive.

Rather than looking for forgiveness from a person, I first pray and examine where I have hurt or wronged him or her.

Then I apologize to them for what I have done “without any expectations” that they will reciprocate by apologizing for having wronged me.

Sometimes the person responds by apologizing, other times they hold on to their anger.

Either way, I have “swept my side of the street,” and I am at peace and can sincerely pray for them.
Failure to forgive is a tricky business.

Hanging onto our anger and resentment may give us a distorted sense of pleasure, but Jesus tells us that by not forgiving, we condemn ourselves.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:37-38



A suggestion: Ask yourselves this question.
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