Sep 072011

By Father Andrew Kelly

Every Sunday the believing community begs the Lord: “Teach us how to pray.” The Lord graciously responds with a prayer that includes the petition: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

What that petition means in everyday community life is what Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35) is all about.

The conversation between Jesus and Peter is as pertinent in 2011 as it was in the beginning:

“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’”

Jesus tells a story about a king who forgave a servant’s huge debt out of sheer mercy and compassion. But the same servant refused mercy, compassion and forgiveness toward a fellow servant who owed but a pittance in comparison.  

In 2011 what does “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” mean?  

Jesus’ final words in Sunday’s Gospel explain: “So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

(Father Andrew Kelly is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Mechanicsville.)

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