The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle A of the 24th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew Matthew 18:21-35.

After Christ grants the power to forgive sins (“bind and loose”) to the disciples, Peter, continuing to show why Christ chose him to be the leader of the Church, asks for clarity about the limits of forgiveness; Christ’s reply, “70 times 7”, means unlimited forgiveness. Elsewhere, Christ reveals that a man’s own forgiveness depends on his willingness to forgive (The Lord’s Prayer : “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”) and Christ demonstrates the infinite magnitude of forgiveness from the Cross (“Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do”).

Stressing the forgiveness imperative, Christ offers the parable of The Unmerciful Slave. A King (Christ) has riches and power so immeasurable that one of His slaves owes Him several billion dollars (10,000 talents in today’s values/200,000 years labor!).  The King’s reckoning of accounts (an allusion to the Judgment) requires that the slave, his whole family and all his possessions must be sold in partial payment of his infinite debt. In desperation, the slave kneels and begs, desperately promising to pay his impossible debt. The King, viscerally moved by the slave’s repentant plea, forgives the slave’s entire debt.

The slave relieved of the impossible debt, forgetting forgiveness, encounters a fellow slave who owes him several thousand dollars (100 denarii/about three months wages). Despite the small level of debt, he chokes the man, demanding payment. The second slave, as did the first, fell to his knees and begged for time to pay his entire debt. Instead of mercy, the first casts the second slave into prison.  Fellow slaves report the injustice to the King who confronts the evil slave, rebuking him for his lack of mercy and turning him over to the jailers (literally, “torturers”) until the entire debt is paid, an impossibility (an allusion to the eternal torture of Hell).  Christ confirms: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ describes His Kingdom, Authority and insights into how He rules. Divine Mercy, Christ describes the infinite mercy that God is willing to show the repentant. Divine Teacher, Christ gives a powerful parable that gives deep insight and sticks in the mind. Divine Judge, Christ offers a veiled preview of the Judgment that awaits all, including allusions to the horror of Hell.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) In the parable of The Unmerciful Slave, Christ gives a mysterious “God’s eye” view of God’s infinite Mercy but also His perfect Justice.  Reflect on Christ’s willingness to forgive the immense sins of repentant sinners and the just punishment unrepentant sinners will face.

2) Feelings of resentment, anger, disgust, contempt, condemnation, revenge, etc. towards others are all signs that a man has failed to forgive; like The Unmerciful Slave, Christ warns that the unforgiving will lose their own forgiveness. Review the Church’s teaching on As we forgive those who trespass against us (CCC 2838, 2842-2845), make a list of those you have not forgiven (even back to childhood), pray for Christ to send His Holy Spirit to help you forgive your “brothers (and sisters) from your heart.”

3) Having sought to forgive all those who have trespassed against you, know that Christ will forgive you. Refresh your understanding of Forgive us our trespasses (CCC 981-987, 2839-2841), conduct a rigorous Examination of Conscience, repent in your heart, go to the Sacrament of Confession and experience Christ’s Divine Mercy.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner