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Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

When someone hurts us, we think it’s very generous when we give them a second chance. But what if they do it again? Do we readily give them a third chance? And, if we do give them that third chance and they do it again, do we give them a fourth? This Sunday Jesus surprises St. Peter and us too with this symbolic response. This parable teaches us about God’s unlimited mercy for each one of us. He calls us to imitate him in this characteristically Christian virtue. In the parable, Jesus mentions two people who need to have their debts cancelled. The first owes 10,000 talents. A talent was 6,000 days wages. Therefore, this person owed 60,000,000 days of work. (If a person made minimum wage today, that would mean he would owe about $2.48 billion). Knowing that he and his whole family would be thrown into prison, he went in to the Master and begged for time to pay back that unpayable sum. The Master, moved with compassion, cancelled the debt in its entirety. The debtor had essentially received his life back. But he went out and met a man who owed him 100 denarii, or 100 days wages. (If a person was making minimum wage, this would be in today’s dollars about $4,120, a sum much easier to repay). But when he fell to his knees and begged for time to repay the debt, the one who had been forgiven the $2.5 billion had no mercy at all. The slave who owes the master ten thousand talents (the $2.5 billion), represents each one of us before God. We owe everything to God, and without his help, we are unable to make up for our sins (Jesus died for each of them). Yet God in his mercy has chosen to forgive us. In receiving God’s patient love, our lives have been changed. We have new life because of Jesus Christ! Despite the great love we have received, sometimes we can be unforgiving toward our neighbors, just like the slave whose debt was pardoned. The forgiven slave becomes a wicked slave the moment he does not “forgive as he has been forgiven.” One last thing, today’s lesson is of utmost importance to us because we must always remember that God’s mercy toward us — which is infinite and everlasting — can be revoked. In the parable, the Master who had written off the $2.5 billion debt, revoked it when he saw the one he had forgiven refuse similar mercy to the person who owed him. Today Jesus is asking us to make his words our own, to make his love our own, to make his mercy our own — by our receiving His forgiveness from him and by our sharing that forgiveness lavishly with others. Through our reception of the Blessed Eucharist, may the Lord strengthen us to become his disciples not just in name but in fact. Amen.

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