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Gospel Reflection for 24th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A – September 17th 2017
The parable today both invites us to forgive and highlights it difficulty. Jesus never underestimates the difficulty of some aspects of human life. The story mirrors many of us: we forgive conditionally and then expect something more. Real forgiveness forgives seventy times seventy. We see this in many families – we forgive each other, sometimes in small or sometimes in big issues, over and over again.
Forgiveness also brings freedom. The forgiveness expressed from one nation to another, even if symbolic, leads to greater freedom of relations.
It is difficult. The seven times seventy is the forgiveness rooted in mercy. It is the forgiveness of Jesus for his captors and for those who betrayed and denied him.
When we find it difficult to forgive, at least we may want to forgive. When it is too difficult we can pray for those who have treated us badly. Prayer opens the heart to greater understanding and eventually forgiveness, and to the freedom of the forgiving heart.
Jose Pagola writes: ‘ the denial of forgiveness seems to us quite normal and even very honourable for an offence, a humiliation or an injustice. However that is not what will humanise the world. A couple without mutual understanding would destroy each other. A family without forgiveness would be a hell. A society without compassion would be inhuman’ (Following in the Footsteps of Jesus, year A).
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger