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6 March 2018

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the king’s servant who owed ten thousand talents.

A ‘talent’ was a unit of measurement of precious metals such as gold and silver (in ancient times, valued more highly than gold!). One talent was somewhere between 20 and 50 kg. Consider what 35kg of gold is worth today and multiply that by 10,000. It’s an insanely large amount, well over $12 billion, yet the good king forgave his servant the entire debt when he (ludicrously) begged him for more time to pay.

This servant’s fellow servant owed him one hundred denarii. A denarius was a day’s wage for a labourer, say $150, so a debt of 100 denarii ($15,000) is not insignificant. This sad, bad servant did not even allow his colleague more time to pay, let alone forgive the debt.

The long and short of Jesus’ parable is this: The debt we owe God is massive, utterly unpayable by us. He wipes it out completely when we come humbly to him. The debt others owe us through their wrongdoing or hurtful behaviour is real. We have a choice: we, in our hurt and anger, can ‘make them pay’, or, in the light of the mercy given freely to us by the great king, we can choose to forgive.

Peter asked the question, “How often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?” The answer Jesus gives, “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times”, establishes a new discipline for disciples: We are to be those who practise radical forgiveness. Easy to say, tough to do (at least without the help of the Holy Spirit).

Jesus said we are forgiven our trespasses to the degree that we forgive those who trespass against us (Matt 6.14-15). Let’s pray for the grace to forgive today.
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