Saturday, September 17, 2005

Gospel for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 20:1-16a

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

[1] "For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. [2] After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. [3] And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; [4] and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. [5] Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. [6] And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?' [7] They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.' [8] And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' [9] And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. [10] Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. [11] And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, [12] saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' [13] But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? [14] Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. [15] Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? [16] So the last will be first, and the first last."



1-16. This parable is addressed to the Jewish people, whom God called at an early hour, centuries ago. Now the Gentiles are also being called--with an equal right to form part of the new people of God, the Church. In both cases it is a matter of a gratuitous, unmerited, invitation; therefore, those who were the "first" to receive the call have no grounds for complaining when God calls the "last" and gives them the same reward--membership of His people. At first sight the laborers of the first hour seem to have a genuine grievance--because they do not realize that to have a job in the Lord's vineyard is a divine gift. Jesus leaves us in no doubt that although He calls us to follow different ways, all receive the same reward--Heaven.

2. "Denarius": a silver coin bearing an image of Caesar Augustus (Matthew 22:19-21).

3. The Jewish method of calculating time was different from ours. They divided the whole day into eight parts, four night parts (called "watches") and four day parts (called "hours")--the first, third, sixth and ninth hour.

The first hour began at sunrise and ended around nine o'clock; the third ran to twelve noon; the sixth to three in the afternoon; and the ninth from three to sunset. This meant that the first and ninth hours varied in length, decreasing in autumn and winter and increasing in spring and summer and the reverse happening with the first and fourth watches.

Sometimes intermediate hours were counted--as for example in verse 6 which refers to the eleventh hour, the short period just before sunset, the end of the working day.

16. The Vulgate, other translations and a good many Greek codexes add: "For many are called, but few are chosen" (cf. Matthew 22:14).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence

From the NYTimes:
Investigators appointed by the Vatican have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for "evidence of homosexuality" and for faculty members who dissent from church teaching, according to a document prepared to guide the process.

The Vatican document, given to The New York Times yesterday by a priest, surfaces as Catholics await a Vatican ruling on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood.
A 12-page document with instructions for the review is now being distributed to seminarians and faculty members. It asks whether the doctrine on the priesthood presented by the seminary is "solidly based on the church's Magisterium," or teaching, and whether teachers and seminarians "accept this teaching." Among the other questions are these:

¶"Is there a clear process for removing from the seminary faculty members who dissent from the authoritative teaching of the church or whose conduct does not provide good example to future priests?"

¶"Is the seminary free from the influences of New Age and eclectic spirituality?"

¶"Do the seminarians or faculty members have concerns about the moral life of those living in the institution? (This question must be answered)."

¶"Is there evidence of homosexuality in the seminary? (This question must be answered)."

The questionnaire also asks whether faculty members "watch out for signs of particular friendships."
We should pray for a thorough investigation and that our Lord will grant the graces necessary for the Holy Father to act in the best interest of the Church and that the priesthood is cleansed of those with intrinisically disordered desires or inclinations.

Gospel for Sept 16, Memorial: St. Cornelius, Pope & Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop & Martyr

From: Luke 8:1-3

The Holy Women

[1] Soon afterward He (Jesus) went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the Good News of the Kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him, [2] and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, [3] and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.



1-3. The Gospel refers a number of times to women accompanying our Lord. Here St. Luke gives us the names of three of them--Mary, called Magdalene, to whom the risen Christ appeared beside the Holy Sepulchre (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9); Joanna, a lady of some position, whom we also meet among the women who went to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection (Luke 24:10), and Susanna, whom the Gospel does not mention again. The role of these women consisted in helping Jesus and His disciples out of their own resources, thereby showing their gratitude for what Christ had done for them, and in cooperating in His ministry.

Men and women enjoy equal dignity in the Church. Within the context of that equality, women certainly have specific characteristics which must necessarily be reflected in their role in the Church: "All the baptized, men and women alike, share equally in the dignity, freedom and responsibility of the children of God.... Women are called to bring to the family, to society and to the Church, characteristics which are their own and which they alone can give--their gentle warmth and untiring generosity, their love for detail, their quick-wittedness and intuition, their simple and deep piety, their constancy.... A woman's femininity is genuine only if she is aware of the beauty of this contribution for which there is no substitute--and if she incorporates it into her own life" ([St] J. Escriva, "Conversations", 14 and 87).

The Gospel makes special reference to the generosity of these women. It is nice to know that our Lord availed Himself of their charity, and that they responded to Him with such refined and generous detachment that Christian women feel filled with a holy and fruitful envy (cf. [St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 981).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Gospel for Sept 15, Memorial: Our Lady of Sorrows

From: John 19:25-27

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (Continuation)

[25] So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. [26] When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" [27] Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.


25. Whereas the Apostles, with the exception of St. John, abandon Jesus in the hour of His humiliation, these pious women, who had followed Him during His public life (cf. Lk 8:2-3) now stay with their Master as He dies on the cross (cf. note on Mt 27:55-56).

Pope John Paul II explains that our Lady's faithfulness was shown in four ways: first, in her generous desire to do all that God wanted of her (cf. Lk 1:34); second, in her total acceptance of God's will (cf. Lk 1:38); third, in the consistency between her life and the commitment of faith which she made; and, finally, in her withstanding this test. "And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole of life can be called faithfulness. Mary's 'fiat' in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silent 'fiat' that she repeats at the foot of the Cross" ("Homily in Mexico Cathedral", 26 January 1979).

The Church has always recognized the dignity of women and their important role in salvation history. It is enough to recall the veneration which from the earliest times the Christian people have had for the Mother of Christ, the Woman "par excellence" and the most sublime and most privileged creature ever to come from the hands of God. Addressing a special message to women, the Second Vatican Council said, among other things: "Women in trial, who stand upright at the foot of the cross like Mary, you who so often in history have given to men the strength to battle unto the very end and to give witness to the point of martyrdom, aid them now still once more to retain courage in their great undertakings, while at the same time maintaining patience and an esteem for humble beginnings" (Vatican II, "Message To Women", 8 December 1965).

26-27. "The spotless purity of John's whole life makes him strong before the Cross. The other apostles fly from Golgotha: he, with the Mother of Christ, remains. Don't forget that purity strengthens and invigorates the character" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 144).

Our Lord's gesture in entrusting His Blessed Mother to the disciple's care, has a dual meaning (see p. 19 above and pp. 35ff). For one thing it expresses His filial love for the Virgin Mary. St Augustine sees it as a lesson Jesus gives us on how to keep the fourth commandment: "Here is a lesson in morals. He is doing what He tells us to do and, like a good Teacher, He instructs His own by example, that it is the duty of good children to take care of their parents; as though the wood on which His dying members were fixed were also the chair of the teaching Master" (St Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 119, 2).

Our Lord's words also declare that Mary is our Mother: "The Blessed Virgin also advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associating herself with His sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim who was born of her. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to His disciple" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 58).

All Christians, who are represented in the person of John, are children of Mary. By giving us His Mother to be our Mother, Christ demonstrates His love for His own to the end (cf. Jn 13:1). Our Lady's acceptance of John as her son show her motherly care for us: "the Son of God, and your Son, from the Cross indicated a man to you, Mary, and said: 'Behold, your son' (Jn 19:26). And in that man He entrusted to you every person, He entrusted everyone to you. And you, who at the moment of the Annunciation, concentrated the whole program of your life in those simple words: 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word' (Lk 1:38): embrace everyone, draw close to everyone, seek everyone out with motherly care. Thus is accomplished what the last Council said about your presence in the mystery of Christ and the Church. In a wonderful way you are always found in the mystery of Christ, your only Son, because you are present wherever men and women, His brothers and sisters, are present, wherever the Church is present" (John Paul II, "Homily in the Basilica of Guadalupe", 27 January 1979).

"John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, brought Mary into his home, into his life. Spiritual writers have seen these words of the Gospel as an invitation to all Christians to bring Mary into their lives. Mary certainly wants us to invoke her, to approach her confidently, to appeal to her as our mother, asking her to 'show that you are our mother'" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 140).

John Paul II constantly treats our Lady as his Mother. In bidding farewell to the Virgin of Czestochowa he prayed in this way: "Our Lady of the Bright Mountain, Mother of the Church! Once more I consecrate myself to you 'in your maternal slavery of love'. 'Totus tuus!' I am yours! I consecrate to you the whole Church--everyone to the ends of the earth! I consecrate to you humanity; I consecrate to you all men and women, my brothers and sisters. All peoples and all nations. I consecrate to you Europe and all the continents. I consecrate to you Rome and Poland, united, through your servant, by a fresh bond of love. Mother, accept us! Mother, do not abandon us! Mother, be our guide!" ("Farewell Address" at Jasna Gora Shrine, 6 June 1979).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Gospel fir Sept 14, Feast: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

From: John 3:13-17

The Visit of Nicodemus (Continuation)

(Jesus said to Nicodemus,) [13] "No one has ascended into Heaven but He who descended from Heaven, the Son of Man. [14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, [15] that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." [16] For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God sent the Son into world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.



13. This is a formal declaration of the divinity of Jesus. No one has gone up into Heaven and, therefore, no one can have perfect knowledge of God's secrets, except God Himself who became man and came down from Heaven--Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of Man foretold in the Old Testament (cf. Daniel 7:13), to whom has been given eternal lordship over all peoples.

The Word does not stop being God on becoming man: even when He is on earth as man, He is in Heaven as God. It is only after the Resurrection and the Ascension that Christ is in Heaven as man also.

14-15. The bronze serpent which Moses set up on a pole was established by God to cure those who had been bitten by the poisonous serpents in the desert (cf. Numbers 21:8-9). Jesus compares this with His crucifixion, to show the value of His being raised up on the cross: those who look on Him with faith can obtain salvation. We could say that the good thief was the first to experience the saving power of Christ on the cross: he saw the crucified Jesus, the King of Israel, the Messiah, and was immediately promised that he would be in Paradise that very day (cf. Luke 23:39-43).

The Son of God took on our human nature to make known the hidden mystery of God's own life (cf. Mark 4:11; John 1:18; 3:1-13; Ephesians 3:9) and to free from sin and death those who look at Him with faith and love and who accept the cross of every day.

The faith of which our Lord speaks is not just intellectual acceptance of the truths He has taught: it involves recognizing Him as Son of God (cf. 1 John 5:1), sharing His very life (cf. John 1:12) and surrendering ourselves out of love and therefore becoming like Him (cf. John 10:27; 1 John 3:2). But this faith is a gift of God (cf. John 3:3, 5-8), and we should ask Him to strengthen it and increase it as the Apostles did: Lord "increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5). While faith is a supernatural, free gift, it is also a virtue, a good habit, which a person can practise and thereby develop: so the Christian, who already has the divine gift of faith, needs with the help of grace to make explicit acts of faith in order to make this virtue grow.

16-21. These words, so charged with meaning, summarize how Christ's death is the supreme sign of God's love for men (cf. the section on charity in the "Introduction to the Gospel according to St. John": pp. 31ff above). "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for its salvation. All our religion is a revelation of God's kindness, mercy and love for us. `God is love' (1 John 4:16), that is, love poured forth unsparingly. All is summed up in this supreme truth, which explains and illuminates everything. The story of Jesus must be seen in this light. `(He) loved me, St. Paul writes. Each of us can and must repeat it for himself--`He loved me, and gave Himself for me'(Galatians 2:20)" (Paul VI, "Homily on Corpus Christi", 13 June 1976).

Christ's self-surrender is a pressing call to respond to His great love for us: "If it is true that God has created us, that He has redeemed us, that He loves us so much that He has given up His only-begotten Son for us (John 3:16), that He waits for us--every day!--as eagerly as the father of the prodigal son did (cf. Luke 15:11-32), how can we doubt that He wants us to respond to Him with all love? The strange thing would be not to talk to God, to draw away and forget Him, and busy ourselves in activities which are closed to the constant promptings of His grace" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 251).

"Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This [...] is why Christ the Redeemer `fully reveals man to himself'. If we may use the __expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity.[...] The one who wishes to understand himself thoroughly [...] must, with his unrest and uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into Him with all his own self, he must `appropriate' and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself.

How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he `gained so great a Redeemer', ("Roman Missal, Exultet" at Easter Vigil), and if God `gave His only Son' in order that man `should not perish but have eternal life'. [...]

`Increasingly contemplating the whole of Christ's mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection" (John Paul II, "Redemptor Hominis", 10).

Jesus demands that we have faith in Him as a first prerequisite to sharing in His love. Faith brings us out of darkness into the light, and sets us on the road to salvation. "He who does not believe is condemned already" (verse 18).

"The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and grace, of life and death. For it is only by putting to death that which is old that we can come to newness of life. Now, although this refers primarily to people, it is also true of various worldly goods which bear the mark both of man's sin and the blessing of God.[...] No one is freed from sin by himself or by his own efforts, no one is raised above himself or completely delivered from his own weakness, solitude or slavery; all have need of Christ, who is the model, master, liberator, savior, and giver of life. Even in the secular history of mankind the Gospel has acted as a leaven in the interests of liberty and progress, and it always offers itself as a leaven with regard to brotherhood, unity and peace" (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 8).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Gospel for Sept 13, Memorial: St. John Chrysostom, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

From: Luke 7:11-17

The Son of the Widow in Nain Restored to Life

[11] Soon afterwards He (Jesus) went to a city called Nain, and His disciples and a great crowd went with Him. [12] As He drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, theonly son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. [13] And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." [14] And He came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." [15] And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And He gave him to his mother. [16] Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited His people!" [17] And this report concerning Him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.


11-17. "Jesus crosses paths again with a crowd of people. He could have passed by or waited until they called Him. But He didn't. He took the initiative, because He was moved by a widow's sorrow. She had just lost all she had, her son.

"The evangelist explains that Jesus was moved. Perhaps He even showed signs of it, as when Lazarus died. Christ was not, and is not, insensitive to the suffering that stems from love. He is pained at seeing children separated from their parents. He overcomes death so as to give life, to reunite those who love one another. But at the same time, He requires that we first admit the pre-eminence of divine love, which alone can inspire genuine Christian living.

"Christ knows He is surrounded by a crowd which will be awed by the miracle and will tell the story all over the countryside. But He does not act artificially, merely to create an effect. Quite simply He is touched by that woman's suffering and cannot but console her. So He goes up to her and says, `Do not weep.' It is like saying, `I don't want to see you crying; I have come on earth to bring joy and peace.' And then comes the miracle, the sign of the power of Christ who is God. But first came His compassion, an evident sign of the tenderness of the heart of Christ the man" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 166).

15. This mother's joy on being given back her son reminds us of the joy of our Mother the Church when her sinful children return to the life of grace. "The widowed mother rejoiced at the raising of that young man," St. Augustine comments. "Our Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit. The young man had been dead physically; the latter, dead spiritually. The young man's death was mourned visibly; the death of the latter was invisible and unmourned. He seeks them out Who knew them to be dead; only He can bring them back to life" ("Sermon", 98, 2).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Gospel for Monday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 7:1-10

The Centurion's Faith

[1] After He (Jesus) had ended all His sayings in the hearing of the people He entered Capernaum. [2] Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. [3] When he heard of Jesus, he sent to Him elders of the Jews, asking Him to come and heal his slave. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have You do this for him, [5] for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue." [6] And Jesus went with them. When He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; [7] therefore I did not presume to come to You. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. [8] For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes; and to another, `Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, `Do this,' and he does it." [9] When Jesus heard this He marvelled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed Him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." [10] And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.



1-10. "They besought Him earnestly" (verse 4). Here is an example of the effectiveness of the prayer of petition, which induces Almighty God to work a miracle. In this connection St. Bernard explains what we should ask God for: "As I see it, the petitions of the heart consists in three things [...]. The first two have to do with the present, that is, with things for the body and for the soul; the third is the blessedness of eternal life. Do not be surprised that He says that we should ask God for things for the body: all things come from Him, physical as well as spiritual things [...]. However, we should pray more often and more fervently for things our souls need, that is, for God's grace and for virtues" ("Fifth Lenten Sermon", 8f). To obtain His grace--of whatever kind--God Himself expects us to ask Him assiduously, confidently, humbly and persistently.

What stands out here is the centurion's humility: he did not belong to the chosen people, he was a pagan; but he makes his request through friends, with deep humility. Humility is the route to faith, whether to receive faith for the first time or to revive it. Speaking of his own conversion experience, St. Augustine says that because he was not humble, he could not understand how Jesus, who was such a humble person, could be God, nor how God could teach anyone by lowering Himself to the point of taking on our human condition. This was precisely why the Word, eternal Truth, became man--to demolish our pride, to encourage our love, to subdue all things and thereby be able to raise us up (cf. "Confessions", VII, 18, 24).

6-7. Such is the faith and humility of the centurion that the Church, in its eucharistic liturgy, gives us his very words to express our own sentiments just before receiving Holy Communion; we too should strive to have this interior disposition when Jesus enters our roof, our soul.


Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness of Injuries. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

[21] Then Peter came up and said to Him (Jesus), "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" [22] Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

[23] "Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. [24] When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; [25] and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. [26] So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' [27] And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. [28] But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.' [29] So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' [30] He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay his debt. [31] When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. [32] Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; [33] and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' [34] And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. [35] So also My Heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."


21-35. Peter's question and particularly Jesus' reply prescribe the spirit of understanding and mercy which should govern Christians' behavior.

In Hebrew the figure of seventy times seven means the same as "always" (cf. Genesis 4:24): "Therefore, our Lord did not limit forgiveness to a fixed number, but declared that it must be continuous and forever" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 6). Here also we can see the contrast between man's ungenerous, calculating approach to forgiveness, and God's infinite mercy. The parable also clearly shows that we are totally in God's debt. A talent was the equivalent of six thousand denarii, and a denarius a working man's daily wage. Ten thousand talents, an enormous sum, gives us an idea of the immense value attaching to the pardon we receive from God. Overall, the parable teaches that we must always forgive our brothers, and must do so wholeheartedly.

"Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offense that you can suffer from them is nothing compared to what God has pardoned you" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 452).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.