Bishop Banda’s Homily, Tuesday, 3rd Week of Lent
Our first reading represents one of the traditional biblical prayers. The narration of God’s wonderful works in the past, confession of one’s unworthiness and a plea of God’s mercy. A plea of God’s mercy is also at the heart of our Gospel passage. In the imitation of our heavenly Father, we must likewise forgive endlessly, 490 times (7 times 70).
The Word of God calls us to forgiveness. The Gospel passage today narrates the servant who did not reciprocate the forgiveness he himself had received. What we receive with gratitude builds us up. We cannot be our best unless we share unreservedly.
However, the gift which is most difficult to share and to bestow upon one another is forgiveness; yet it is often the one of which we stand most in need.
It is in giving that we receive. It is in forgiveness that communion with others and God is made possible. During this season of Lent we are seeking God’s forgiveness, and in the process we are also seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with one another.
Forgiveness is synonymous to writing off a debt. It means that we have accepted that the other has no capacity to pay back. The other is insolvent. Forgiving someone who has caused us great harm and hurt means that we have come to accept that the other is insolvent – spiritually insolvent.
There seems to be a tendency to put limitations on forgiveness. However, Jesus says it all in the parable. We ought to forgive endlessly. Unfortunately even the fortunate person who had been generously forgiven a huge debt could not reciprocate the same gesture to the other. This tendency goes on in families, in communities and in society.
How many families squabble for years over pettiness? How many siblings argue over their inheritance, for which they never worked a day in their lives? How many business partners have a falling out that drag through the courts for years on end? How many neighbours find themselves in a fierce battle simply because an innocent child through a stone that broke a neighbour’s windowpane?
How many young people develop unhealthy rivalry over grades, sports, or over a friend?
How many religious resist authority by becoming “passively aggressive” over real or imaginary issues? Let us pray that we may forgive and be reconciled.