Weekly Missionary Reflection
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 13 September 2020
Sir. 27:30 – 28:9 ; Ps. 103:1-2,3-4,9-10,11-12; Rm. 14:7-9; Mat. 18:21-35
Today’s gospel begins (v. 21) and ends (v. 35) with the same phrase: “forgive my brother”. Peter begins with a question, Jesus ends it with a statement. Peter asks about the quantity: “how many times” to forgive. He even directly points to the most perfect number: 7 times! But, Jesus answers him by emphasizing the quality: “wholehearted” forgiveness. It is the quality that Jesus emphasized, not the quantity, no mattter how it is translated as 77 times or 70 x 7 times! Thus, today’s gospel continues and develops last Sunday’s theme. Loving fellow church members does not stop at correcting, but is also always ready to forgive them.
In Jesus’ time, the poor frequently had to owe the landlords and the rich. Today Jesus tells the story in an extreme way. Imagine, the servant had a debt of 10,000 talents! It is said that the income of the rich king Herod the Great was not more than 900 talents/year, and total tax collected in the region of Galilee and Perea was only 200 talents/year. One talent equals to the total wages of 15 years of work. That means that the servant had to work for about 150,000 years to pay off his debt. In other words, Jesus wants to emphasize that the first servant had a debt that would impossibly be paid off. The reader is led to an empathy feeling: have the same feeling of him and together with him ask for “patience” from the King. The Servant played the common logic of justice: debt is debt, it must be paid. So he asked for more time and begged for patience. At that point, the story came to a surprise! The King does not follow the common logic of justice. He used the logic of mercy: he forgave all the debt of the servant, without any conditions! This is obviously the illustration of Father’s mercy which forgives the debt of human’s sin unconditionally. With our own power, you and I will not be able to overcome our piles of sin. Only the abundant love from the Father is able to pay off the debt of our sin through the cross of His Son.
The experience of being abundantly forgiven should make everyone have a little spirit of forgiveness. The first servant is apparently staying with the common logic of justice. His fellow servant who owed him just a little was forced to pay off this debt. He even does not give him more time and sends him right away to prison. His way of thinking was not changed. His experience of being forgiven was not shared to others. Now, the reader turns from empathy to antipathy. The servant is “wicked” because he does not forgive and fails to love his fellow servant (v. 33). The result is fatal: he is sent to prison. It is impossible for him to be freed, because he absolutely would not be able to pay off such a big debt.
It is not a coincidence that the theme of “forgiveness” ends Jesus’ sermons about the church. The church will survive, because its members have experienced the abundant and free forgiveness from the Father and pass on that forgiveness to everyone. Forgiveness is a sign of love, a sign of love to enemy. It is like the breath of life: we breathe it abundantly from the Father, and must blow it to everyone.
(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)
DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER
Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.
Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:
For Evangelization intention:
Respecting natural resources: May all natural resources of the earth be not greedily drained and stolen, but be fairly shared with gratitude and appreciation to the nature. We pray …
For Indonesian Churches intention:
Creating clean air: In participating in creating the clean air, may Catholic families initiate to make simple contribution by greening each surrounding . We pray …
We present our willpower to voice our effort of justice to The Word Himself. We pray …