JOSHUA 3 : 7 – 10a, 11, 13 – 17
In those days: The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And you shall command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan. ”’ And Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” And Joshua said, “Hereby you shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is to pass over before you into the Jordan. And when the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be stopped from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” So, when the people set out from their tents, to Passover the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (the Jordan over flows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down towards the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho. And while all Israel were passing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 114: 1- 6
When Israel came forth from Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a foreign people,
Judah became his temple,
Israel became his domain. R.
The sea beheld them and fled;
The Jordan turned back on its course.
The mountains leapt like rams,
And the hills like yearling sheep. R.
Why was it, sea, that you fled;
That you turned back, Jordan, on your course?
O mountains, that you leapt like rams;
O hills, like yearling sheep? R.
Psalm 119: 135
Let your face shine forth on your servant, and teach me your decrees. Alleluia
MATTHEW 18: 21 – 19:1
At that time: Peter came up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ “And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ahundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ “So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you. ’He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
The Gospel of the Lord.
REFLECTION: Always and Forever Forgiving
August 12, 2021
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.” (Matthew 18:21–22)
Saint John Chrysostom, in commenting upon this passage, explains that “seventy-seven times” was a way of saying “always.” In other words, Jesus was not giving a specific number to the times we must forgive, He was saying that forgiveness must be offered forever and always, without limit. This is the depth of forgiveness offered to us.
This passage also shows the contrast between the human tendency towards forgiveness and God’s. Peter, no doubt, must have thought that he was being generous by asking if he should forgive his brother as many as seven times. Perhaps he thought Jesus would be impressed by this apparently generous suggestion. But the infinite mercy of God can never be outdone. There is simply no limit to the mercy of God, and, therefore, there must be no limit to the mercy we offer others.
What is your personal practice when it comes to seeking the forgiveness of God in your life? And what is your practice in regard to offering forgiveness to another? This line quoted above introduces the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. In that parable, the servant owed his king a “huge amount.” In mercy, the king forgave the debt just as God is willing to forgive us no matter what. But forgiveness does have one price. The price is that we must also forgive others to the same extent. Thus, when the servant who was forgiven a huge amount later sees one of his servants who owed him a much smaller amount, he demands the debt be paid in full. The result is that the king hears of this and withdraws his mercy, requiring the servant to pay him back in full.
This tells us that forgiveness is not an option unless we are perfect and owe no debt to God. Of course, if anyone thinks that, then they are not living in reality. As we read in the letter to the Romans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As a result, it is essential that we offer forgiveness always and everywhere, without condition, without limit and without hesitation. How easily do you do this? How fully do you forgive?
One of the hardest persons to forgive is the one who has no sorrow for their sin. When this happens, it is easy to justify our condemnation of them. One thing that might be helpful to reflect upon if you are currently withholding forgiveness from another and remain angry, bitter or hurt, is that your lack of forgiveness does more damage to your own soul than to theirs. By refusing to forgive, you do immeasurable damage to your soul and to your relationship with God. Remaining angry and hurt only leads to more anger and hurt. It leads to vengeful thinking and even acting. And that is a sin for which you will be held accountable.
Reflect, today, upon the infinite depth of mercy and forgiveness you are called to offer to each and every person who has or will hurt you. To forgive is certainly not to excuse. On the contrary, the act of forgiveness acknowledges the sin. But mercy must be offered no matter what. Always, everywhere, unending and without any conditions, it must be offered. If this is difficult to do, do it anyway and do not stop. Doing so will not only help the sinner, it will also open the gates of mercy from God in your life.
My forgiving Lord, Your mercy is infinite and unfathomable. You desire to forgive every sin in my life and to restore me completely to a life of perfect union with You. I accept this gift of forgiveness in my life, dear Lord, and I freely choose to offer this same depth of mercy to everyone who ever has or ever will sin against me. I forgive as completely as I can. Please help me to imitate Your unending mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.