Be patient with me; increase my love

Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time – Thursday

Yesterday’s Gospel was about God’s desire to forgive the infinite debt we owe him due to our sins. To look upon the crucified Christ is to know that our debt has been paid. Today’s Gospel is about our opportunity to image God the Father in the world by forgiving those who sin against us and whose debt to us is much less than what we owe God, who has given us every good thing. Jesus is clear that God can forgive us only to the extent that we forgive others. (The cup you use to measure others is the cup God will use to measure you.)

Gospel of the Day: Matthew 18:21–19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Quote of the Day
In Conversation With God, Vol. 4, Francis Fernandez

61.1 The innumerable benefits from the Lord.

…This first debtor symbolizes our own situation; we owe God so much that we can never hope to pay the debt. We owe him the gift of our creation. He preferred to create us as we are rather than in another way. He created our bodies with the help of our parents, but He created our immortal souls as well as our bodies in a direct, unrepeatable act. He made our bodies and souls to be eternally happy in Heaven. We find ourselves in the world by His express desire. We owe God our conservation in existence, since without him everything would return to nothing. He has given us the energies and qualities of our body and spirit, our health, our life and all the goods we possess. Over and above this natural order, we are in his debt for his supernatural benefits such as the Incarnation of his Son, the Redemption, our divine filiation, our being called to participate in the divine life here on earth and later in Heaven with the glorification of body and soul.

We are indebted to God for the immense gift of being sons and daughters of the Church, in which we have the blessing of receiving the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. In the Church we share through the Communion of Saints in the good works of the other members of the faithful. At any moment we are receiving graces through those other members, those who are at prayer or who are offering up their work or their sufferings … We are also continually receiving benefits from the saints in Heaven, from the holy souls in Purgatory and from the angels. All of these graces reach us through the intercession of Mary, our Mother. Their source lies in the infinite merits of Christ, our Head, our Redeemer and Mediator. These helps are bestowed upon us daily, keeping us from sin, lighting up our souls, moving us to fulfil our duties to do the good that is possible in every moment, to be silent when others complain, to go to the defence or the assistance of the most needy …

We owe God for the grace that is always necessary for any good works, to be true to our resolutions, to deepen our desires to follow Jesus Christ and to make progress in the acquisition of virtues. …

Truly, we are insolvent debtors who have not the wherewithal to pay our debt. We can only adopt the attitude of the bankrupt servant in the parable: So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord,, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ Since we are his sons, we can petition him with an unlimited confidence. Fathers do not remember the loans they have made out of love to their little children. Draw strength from your divine filiation. God is a Father — your Father! — full of warmth and infinite love. call him Father frequently and tell him, when you are alone, that you love him, that you love him very much, and that you feel proud and strong because you are his son. (St J Escriva, The Forge, 331). Our older brother, Jesus Christ, will more than pay in full for all of us.

61.3 Gratitude towards all people; always forgiving every offence

Always and everywhere to give you thanks … This is what our attitude should be towards God. We should be grateful at every moment, in whatever circumstances. This includes those times when we have trouble understanding some event. …Everything that happens to us is a continuous call ut in gratiarum actione semper manemus, that we remain always in an ongoing act of thanksgiving.

Ut in gratiarum actione semper maneamus … We have to bring this attitude  to the fore in our daily life. We need to take advantage of the little happenings of each day to show our gratitude in family life, at work, with our friends … We show our gratitude to the man who sells us a newspaper, to the clerk who attends to us, to the driver who allows us to enter traffic, to the friendly pharmacist at the corner shop.

In this passage from the Gospel the Lord shows us another way to settle our accounts with him. This includes all the debts we have contracted through our sins and omissions. The Lord wants us to forgive those offences which are done to us. IN the worst kind of situation we can imagine, the sum of those offences we receive will not exceed one hundred denarii, a somewhat ridiculous amount compared with the ten thousand talents (some sixty million denarii). If we know how to forgive the offences done to us by others (perhaps even to the extent of a really grievous injury), then our Lord will not hold against us the enormous debt we owe him. This is the condition Jesus imposes at the conclusion of the parable. And this is what we say to God each day when we pray the Our Father: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. When we forgive and forget, we imitate Our Lord, since nothing makes us more like unto God than to be always willing to forgive (St John Chrysostom, Homilies on St Matthew’s Gospel, 19.7).

We finish our meditation with a prayer that has been traditionally popular with the faithful: I thank you my God for having created me, redeemed me, made me a Christian, and given me life. I offer you my thoughts, words, and actions of this day. Do not allow me to offend you and give me strength to flee from occasions of sin. Increase my love for you and for everyone.