The Call to Compassion

Matthew 18:21-35

In today’s gospel Jesus not only gives us a great example of how God the Father compassionately forgives us, but also how He expects us to grant that same compassionate forgiveness to our brothers and sisters.

Compassionate Mercy of the Father

The mercy of our Father is something that continues to baffle me day after day. I rarely feel as if I deserve His forgiveness, yet He forgives me just the same. Still though, I feel that it is hard for us to truly comprehend just how wildly merciful our Lord is. I believe Jesus knew this and spoke to us through different parables like this one today to try and paint the picture. Although we do not know the exact amount of debt the servant was in, we do know that it was enough for the Master to sell off the servant family and belongings to try and even the debt. This alone to me shows the magnitude of this debt that we are talking about. Likewise, the debt that we “owe” to the Father is one that we can never truly pay off on our own. Thankfully, the Father is like the Master - abundant in love and mercy. We can find peace in knowing that every time we plead to the Father for forgiveness, He grants it. We must not only seek His forgiveness, but also accept it. We have a tendency to hold onto our guilt; to let the guilt of our past transgression hold us back and keep us from the Father. We know this to be true from scripture where in Hebrews it says,

“For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.”

If God, who has the greatest right to be offended and hold onto our sins, can forgive and forget our sins, what gives us the right to question that and not forgive ourselves?

Compassionate Mercy Towards Our Brothers and Sisters

Forgiveness has been and always will be one of the tougher tasks of this life. Before we tackle how to forgive our brothers and sister in Christ, we must first consider what it means to forgive. Forgiveness is not a word and it is not a mindset. Rather, forgiveness is an action that knows no limits. As Jesus says, forgiveness is not an act that should be done only once or twice, but one that should be done as often as sin against us occurs. It is hard and easier said than done, but as Pope Saint John Paul II said,

Thanks to the healing power of love, even the most wounded heart can experience the liberating encounter with forgiveness.”

The only way to let go of our hardships and grievances is to forgive out of love. God is love, and forgiving out of love means that we invite God into the situations where we find it the hardest to forgive. We rely on Him to liberate our heart and free us of the shackles our grudges hold us in. But as the gospel says, God acknowledges our ability and inability to forgive and in turn judges us accordingly. God wants to be there in our hardest moments and He desires to have a personal relationship with us. The question is not how much will God forgive and love us, but how much will we forgive and love those around us?

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