Daily Gospel Reflection – Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Bishop Robert Barron
March 14, 2023
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Gospel: Mt 18:21-35
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 him 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 your brother from your heart."
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable that illustrates God’s mercy. The Latin word for mercy is misericordia, which designates the suffering of the heart, or compassion—cum patior (I suffer with).
Mercy is identical to what the Old Testament authors refer to as God’s hesed, or tender mercy. It is the characteristic of God, for God is love. The love that obtains among the Trinitarian persons spills over into God’s love for the world that he has made.
Think of a mother’s love for her children. Could you ever imagine a mother becoming indifferent to one of her offspring? But even should she forget, we read in the prophet Isaiah, God will never forget his own. Consider the fact that nothing would exist were it not willed into being by God. But God has no need of anything; hence, his sustaining of the universe is an act of disinterested love and tender mercy.
There is no greater manifestation of the divine mercy than the forgiveness of sins. When G.K. Chesterton was asked why he became a Catholic, he answered, “To have my sins forgiven.” This is the greatest grace the Church can offer: reconciliation, the restoration of the divine friendship, the forgiveness of our sins.