THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
3 November 2019
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Today's Gospel shows us the unmerciful servant. He was forgiven an enormous debt by his master, but then could not find it in himself to forgive a small debt owed to him. We are instructed that we must forgive others as we have been forgiven by God. In turning to God for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, we find that He eagerly forgives us of our sins and frees us from eternal punishment in Hell. When we find others, in this world, who have sinned against us, we should be eager to forgive them as we have been forgiven.
The lesson is clear, we must forgive as we have been forgiven. We repeat this every time we pray "The Lord's Prayer" the "Our Father." "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." This is the compassion and mercy that we are to extend to everyone.
There is another perspective that might be helpful for us to consider. How are we to behave if we are the ones that seek forgiveness from someone but, find that this forgiveness is refused us? How should we treat those who oppress us?
We should begin by realizing that in the strictest justice we deserve what is being done to us. Our sins and offenses are many and deserve much worse than what we are currently receiving. We cannot claim the innocence of Jesus.
This oppressor is as an enemy and Jesus tells us that we must love our enemies. We must do good to those who persecute us. We should strive to avoid becoming unmerciful because we have been treated unmercifully. Two wrongs do not make a right. We should strive to always take the higher road and imitate the life of Jesus. What would Jesus do in this instance? As He hung upon the cross, suffering the abuses of all mankind, Jesus prayed, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." The more we offended Him, the more eager He was to forgive us. The more we are offended, or hurt by our fellow men, the more we should be eager to forgive them. What Jesus suffered from us was unjust, what we suffer from others is very likely well deserved.
We should not condemn someone who refuses to forgive us, because in justice we are the ones that should be condemned. Justice does not demand that we are forgiven. Justice demands that we pay our debts or suffer the consequences. When we beg for forgiveness we are appealing to their charity and mercy, which is strictly not owed to us. We are asking for a gift. If this gift is refused us we have no right to anger or hatred. If we give in to this sin we sink even deeper into debt.
The oppression that we have earned is not the fault of our oppressor. He is only doing that which is right and just, and he is giving us the opportunity to suffer and thus make some reparation for our sins. Far from hating him, we should love him all the more. Far from cursing him, we should bless him. It is God that uses him for our own good. He is the instrument of God in giving us the opportunity to practice patience and other virtues and to simultaneously make reparations for our sins.
We should strive to suffer all these things humbly and meekly in imitation of Jesus. We should bless everyone, especially those who oppress us. Our oppressors do more good for us than anyone else if we will receive it correctly. Our "friends" often support and even encourage us in our sins and therefore they are our enemies rather than our true friends. Our "enemies" point out our sins and threaten us with just punishments unless we amend, correct our faults, and make reparation for the harm that we have caused; in this, they are truly our friends. We should be grateful to them.
These oppressors may be doing a good service to us, but at the same time, they are doing a great disservice to themselves. In their lack of charity, they are condemning their own souls. We should not take part in that or have and joy in their condemnation. For the good that they have done us even though the world sees it as evil we should pray that God should have mercy upon them.
We who are in need of mercy, let us have mercy for others. We who are in need of forgiveness, let us forgive others. We who are debtors, let us love and bless those to whom we are indebted, especially when they demand justice and satisfaction from us. If we have received good things let us also give good things. If we have received evil things, let us turn them to good and still give good things. Never let us resort to anger and hatred. These sins harm our own souls rather than those who are the objects of our anger and hatred. When we are grateful and bless them, we gain merit for our own souls and perhaps for theirs as well. In this way, we work to draw everyone to Jesus Christ.
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