Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
(Daniel 3:25.34-43; Matthew 18:21-35)
Biographers of St. Patrick are not sure about the events of his life. They say that accounts are so embedded in myth that it is difficult to speak with certainty about them. However, there seems to be some consensus that he was kidnapped and sold as a slave in Ireland. When he escaped, he evidently did not harbor resentment against his land of captivity. Rather he returned there as a missionary bishop to convert its people to Christ. To the extent that this is true, it illustrates today’s gospel.
Jesus emphasizes forgiveness, especially in this gospel according to Matthew. He mentions it in the prayer he taught his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. Then he reiterates the point to make sure the imperative of forgiveness is understood. In today’s passage, toward the end of the gospel, Jesus again hones in on forgiveness. His followers must be ready to forgive multiple times. If they do not, they will not receive the forgiveness they require from the Father.
Forgiveness is especially difficult when we have been offended deeply. We do not want to let the offence go without due recompense beyond an apology. In cases of loss of life or limb, that is simply not possible. By forgiving in this situation, we show our trust that God will turn the injustice into our glory.