Justice without Mercy is cold and even cruel. The Parable of the unmerciful Servant – Matthew 18 21 35 Meaning and Commentary

1. Introductory prayer

I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words, or with those that are here…

Lord, you are my Father and the Father of all. In your immeasurable love, you have not only forgiven me millions of sins, you have also given me an inexhaustible source of love, a source where I can always feed myself. So you invite me to give glasses from this source to others as well – forgiveness, which is a sign of your love. Holy Spirit, please remind me of what the Father has done for me through the Son so that I can draw strength from it for loving relationships and daily forgiveness.

2. Reading – Listening: The Parable of the unmerciful Servant – Matthew 18 21 35 Meaning and Commentary

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

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22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[b] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[c] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel – The Parable of the unmerciful Servant – Matthew 18 21 35 Meaning and Commentary

Justice requires that everyone get their own. The prophet Amos speaks of God forgiving three times but warns that God must not abolish punishment a fourth time (Amos 1: 1-13; 2: 1-6). In this sense, Peter was very generous when he asked Jesus if it was enough to forgive someone seven times.

But Jesus does not set boundaries. Giving and receiving forgiveness knows no bounds. With the parable of two very different types of debts, this clearly shows this. The first man owed a huge sum of money – millions in our currency.

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At the time of Jesus, this amount was greater than the total income of the province of Judea — more than the ransom would have cost their king! A man who has been forgiven such an incredible debt, however, cannot forgive his neighbor a very small debt, which was about a hundred-thousandth of his own. The contrast couldn’t be greater!

God has forgiven us a huge debt that we could never repay on our own. No one can forgive himself for the sin he has committed. Only God alone can forgive this.

Therefore, Heavenly Father sent His only Son, who, through his merciful and forgiving love, freed us from the bondage of evil and sin through his life, work, death on the cross, and resurrection. After Him, we became adopted sons and daughters and share His relationship with the Father.

We owe God thanks for His free forgiveness, for the grace of forgiveness He gave us in His Son, Jesus Christ. But our gratitude is not a payment for His free gift but helps us to become more deeply aware of the immensely great and precious gift, to accept it, and to exercise it in relation to ourselves and others with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is of great help to us if we ask the Holy Spirit to always remind and teach us (Jn 14:26) what the Father has done for us through the Son and to give us the strength to live it.

If God has shown us free mercy when He forgave us our sins, then we too are invited to be merciful and to forgive all those who have offended us, hurt us. The willingness to forgive those who offend us is actually a sacred duty.

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But God still gives us freedom. If we expect God to forgive us and have mercy on us when we sin against Him, do not live His love, and do not keep His commandments, then we are rightly invited to give up all resentment toward others as well. Only in this way can God’s forgiveness in us be fully realized (Matt. 6: 12,14-15). Otherwise, we close ourselves off from Him.

Jesus teaches us to pray every day for the grace and power of forgiveness in the same way that God has forgiven us (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13). For only when we show compassion to our fellow man and forgive him, can we ourselves receive the fullness of God’s forgiveness. In this way, we have allowed God to make his forgiveness truly present in us. The Apostle James says: Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.. ”(James 2:13)

Mercy is the other side of God’s justice. It completely spices up justice, like salt, which gives food its taste. Justice without mercy is cold, calculating, and even cruel. Mercy follows justice and perfects it. Fairness requires that mistakes be addressed to correct what is possible. If we want to experience mercy, we must be willing, together with God, to forgive others from the heart, as He has forgiven us, for free.

We ask God the Father to purify our hearts so that we can be merciful and lovingly benevolent to all, especially to those who cause us sorrow and various afflictions, wounds. Only He in Jesus can free us from all resentment so that we can truly forgive all those who have offended and hurt us.

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4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • With Jesus, I observe the king’s attitude in the parable.
  • If I name the pain and hand it over to the Lord, he returns it to me, washed, new. What smell does the washed pain have for me?
  • God’s forgiveness means we are free from sin. Not only are we forgiven, but because of the freedom He gives us, we can choose to no longer commit this sin. Where do I feel the attachment to which I would like to invite Jesus?
  • How could I, even more, live the love of God, how could I pass it on

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

7. Action

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving, and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).

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8. Prayer at the end

Lord, loving Father, thank you for leading me on the path of forgiveness. You show me that this is not forgetting – this is first of all naming what hurts, what was wrong, what was unfair. Then let us release this and give it to your Son to stop this spear and return it as peace. So the pain is washed away, it smells new, after the resurrection. So you can give me the greatest gift – to put on forgiveness in love and live it. Thank you.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel with the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si

Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)