In the first reading today from Daniel 3, we hear the heartfelt and beautiful prayer of Azariah. He, along with his two companions, is in a fiery furnace offering a prayer to God. Spoiler alert: he walks out of that furnace.
The Gospel reading from Matthew 18 is a familiar story about Jesus telling Peter a story after saying he must forgive “not seven times but seventy-seven times.” A man, after being forgiven a large debt, refuses to forgive a small debt. Jesus ends the story with this: “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.”
Do you see any wiggle room in this? I don't. Jesus says God will punish you UNLESS your forgive others from your heart. Let me ask you something. Do you want God to punish you? I hope the answer is of course not. If there were something you could do to prevent that, would you do it? The good news is, there is! It comes right after the “unless.” Forgive. Not once, not twice, but as many times as you’re wronged. Pretty simple, no?
Father, give us a forgiving heart. Help us to forgive others their wrongs, that you may forgive us and relent of your just punishment. Amen.
If your priest doesn’t have A Minute in the Church, get him all five books in the series today as a gift. You can get all four for just $20 at www.GusLloyd.com.