Gospel Reflection – Tuesday, March 5, 2024 – Matthew 18,21-35 – Catholic Bible

First Reading (Dn 3, 25.34-43)

Reading from the Prophecy of Daniel.

In those days: Azariah stood up and, standing, began to pray; opening his mouth in the midst of the fire, he said: ‘Oh! never forsake us, we beg you, for your name’s sake, do not break your covenant or withdraw your benevolence from us, for the sake of Abraham, your friend, for Isaac, your servant, and for Israel, your Holy One, to whom you promised to multiply descendants like the stars of heaven and like the sand on the shore of the sea; Lord, today we are reduced to the smallest of all peoples, we are today the most humble in all the earth, because of our sins; at this time we are without leaders, without prophets, without guides, there is no burnt offering or sacrifice, there is no offering or incense, there is no place to offer in your presence the first fruits, and find benevolence; but, with contrite soul and in spirit of humility, let us be accepted, and as in the burnt offerings of rams and bulls and as in the sacrifices of thousands of fat lambs, let our sacrifice be made today in your presence, and make us follow you to the end; those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed. From now on, we want, with all our heart, to follow you, to fear you, to seek your face; do not let us be confounded, but deal with us according to your mercy and your great mercy; free us with the power of your wonders and make your name glorified, Lord’.

Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Gospel (Mt 18,21-35)

— PROCLAMATION of the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew.

— Glory to you, Lord.

At that time, Peter approached Jesus and asked him: ‘Lord, how often should I forgive, if my brother sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered him: ‘Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven. For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the settlement, brought to him one who owed him a huge debt. Since the servant had no way to pay, the king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and everything he had, in order to pay the debt. The servant, however, fell at his master’s feet and begged: ‘Give me time, and I will pay you everything’. Upon this, the king had compassion, released the servant, and forgave him the debt.

After leaving there, that servant found one of his fellow servants who owed him only a hundred coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe me’. The fellow servant, falling at his feet, begged him: ‘Give me time, and I will pay you’. But the servant refused. He went out and had him thrown into prison until he could pay back what he owed. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master everything that had taken place. Then the master summoned him and said to him: ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all your debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ The master was angry and handed him over to the jailers until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.’

— The Gospel of the Lord.

— Praise to you, Lord.

Reflecting the Word of God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

May the peace of the Lord be with you!

Today, I would like to begin our reflection with a story that directly connects us to our daily experiences. Imagine a situation where you are walking through the bustling streets of a city. The noise of cars, the hurried people, the hustle and bustle of daily life. Suddenly, you see a beggar sitting in a corner, with torn clothes and a sad look. You stop for a moment and look around, noticing that many people pass by him, ignoring his presence.

This scene is familiar to all of us, isn’t it? We live in a world full of people who are in need of love, compassion, and mercy. And that’s exactly what the Bible passages we read today speak to us about: love, compassion, and mercy.

In the first reading, taken from the book of Daniel, we are immersed in the story of the three young Hebrews who were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship idols. They placed their faith in God above all else. And, in the midst of the fire, they cried out to God with humility and repentance, acknowledging their sins and asking for forgiveness. And the Lord, in His mercy, sent His angel to protect them and set them free. This passage reminds us that even in the most difficult and desperate situations, God is with us, ready to forgive us and give us a new chance.

This message of forgiveness and mercy is further reinforced in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant, who owes his master a great amount of money. When the master demands payment, the servant pleads for mercy and patience, and the master, moved by compassion, cancels his debt. However, this same servant, soon afterward, encounters a fellow servant who owes him a small amount of money and treats him harshly, demanding immediate payment. Upon learning of this, the master calls the unforgiving servant and rebukes him, reminding him that he should also have shown mercy to his fellow servant. And Jesus concludes by saying, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart”.

These biblical passages invite us to reflect on the importance of love, compassion, and forgiveness in our lives. We live in a world where it is easy to become caught up in our own interests and selfish desires. But Jesus calls us to break through these barriers of selfishness and to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need.

Imagine if all of us adopted a posture of mercy and forgiveness in our lives. If, instead of judging and condemning, we reached out to help, forgive, and love. We would be able to transform the world around us. And that transformation begins within each of us.

I want to share with you a story that illustrates this message of forgiveness and mercy. There was once a man who carried with him a great burden of resentment and bitterness. He held a grudge against someone who had deeply hurt him in the past. This burden weighed on his heart, affecting his relationships and his own inner peace.

One day, this man heard a sermon about God’s forgiveness and mercy. He was touched by the unconditional love that God offered, even to the most lost sinners. And he realized that carrying the burden of resentment and bitterness was like being trapped in a prison.

So, he decided to take the first step toward freedom. He sought out the person who had hurt him and, with tears in his eyes, expressed his sincere forgiveness. In that moment, he felt a weight being lifted off his shoulders and experienced a deep peace that he hadn’t felt in a long time.

This story shows us that forgiveness is not just an act of kindness toward others, but also a liberation for ourselves. When we let go of the burden of resentment and bitterness, we make room for God’s grace to work in our lives. And it is this grace that allows us to experience the true peace and joy that can only come from God’s love.

But how can we apply these principles in our daily lives? I want to offer some practical guidance:

First, we need to examine our hearts and identify any resentment, bitterness, or grudges that may be holding us back. We must be willing to confront these feelings and seek forgiveness, whether by forgiving others or asking forgiveness from those we have hurt.

Second, we must remember that forgiveness does not mean ignoring the pain or injustice we have suffered. It means choosing to release the power of these feelings and allowing God’s love to heal our wounds. Forgiveness is not an easy process, but it is a path to healing and freedom.

Third, we must practice compassion in our daily interactions. This means being attentive to the needs of others and responding with love and kindness. We can start small, by helping a coworker with a difficult task or listening empathetically to a friend going through a tough time. Small acts of compassion can have a significant impact on others’ lives.

Fourth, we must remember that God’s mercy is infinite and that we should also extend it to ourselves. Often, we are our own worst critics and blame ourselves for our mistakes and failures. But God calls us to forgive ourselves and to open ourselves to His transforming grace. Learning to love and forgive ourselves is essential for living a full and abundant life.

Dear brothers and sisters, the call to love, compassion, and forgiveness is a call that is given to us every day. It is a call to be true disciples of Christ, spreading the light of His love in a world that is often enveloped in darkness.

As we delve into these teachings, let us remember the words of Jesus: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”. May we seek God’s mercy in our lives and, by His grace, be instruments of mercy and forgiveness to others.

May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen us on this journey of love and compassion. May He help us break the chains of resentment and bitterness, so that we may experience true freedom in Christ.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for teaching us the way of love, compassion, and forgiveness. We ask that you grant us the grace to live according to these teachings, so that we may be living witnesses of your love in the world. Help us to release any resentment and bitterness that may be in our hearts and to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need. Give us the courage to forgive and the compassion to love as you love us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.