The Lord is “rich in mercy” to the point that He gives us mercy every moment of our lives.

Although we live wholly on mercy and forgiveness, we can be backward in forgiving the offenses of our fellows. Just look at the three components of the parable in today’s Gospel: A master forgives a servant’s debt. The servant then goes out and sees another servant who owes him money. The second servant falls on his knees in front of the first and begs for forgiveness. The man who was forgiven such an incredible debt could not, however bring himself to forgive his neighbor a very small debt which was about one- hundred-thousandth of his own debt. The contrast could not have been greater! So the unforgiving servant in this parable ends up being tortured in a dungeon.

God’s mercy towards each one of us shows us the way that God wants each one of us to be merciful towards one another. When Peter posed the question of forgiveness and showing mercy to one’s neighbor, he characteristically offered an answer he thought Jesus would be pleased with. Why not forgive your neighbor seven times! How unthinkable for Jesus to counter with the proposition that one must forgive seventy times that. Jesus made it clear that there is no reckonable limit to mercy and pardon. And He drove the lesson home with a parable above.
Mercy means to treat others better than they deserve. The Lord is “rich in mercy” to the point that He gives us mercy every moment of our lives. Because of our sins, we don’t deserve to live, for the wages of sin is death. Therefore, every moment of life is a gift of God’s mercy. We certainly don’t deserve to become a new creation, share in God’s nature, and have God live within us, but the Lord has been overwhelmingly merciful. We don’t deserve to be forgiven, to pray, serve God, share the Gospel, receive Communion, rise from the dead, or go to heaven. However, the Lord has given us mercy. His mercy is great, rich, constant, unimaginable and everlasting.

We must forgive if we expect to be forgiven. Forgiveness begins with patience, which is a mild form of forgiveness and tolerance that opens the heart to complete understanding and mercy. Justice will be made to those who do not forgive. Therefore, be mild in your judgment; always treat others as you would like them to treat you. Put yourself in the other person’s position when you are offended. Do not risk your own forgiveness by having resentments in your heart. The moment someone offends you is the moment to forgive and forget. The other person may have committed a sin but you are not God to condemn him, forgive him and you will avoid committing a sin yourself. Be merciful and you will obtain mercy on the Day of Judgment.
Yes, we often don’t deserve wrongs or injustices that come our way. But when they do come, harboring unforgiveness can become a serious barrier to receiving the good in our lives. Surely today’s Gospel shows us this point. When we focus too much on the wrongs of others, we can lose sight of the good that we have received, just like the debtor in the story. Conversely, when we do wrong to another, the wound we have caused may be greater than we realize. In this Lenten season, as we seek to understand our own faults, let us also seek to know and experience the depth and power of God’s love and forgiveness, so that we will not be bound by our wrongs or the wrongs of others.


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