Meditation: Matthew 18:21–19:1

After reading today’s Gospel (or all of the Mass readings), check out this meditation taken from the Mass reading and Meditation for August 16, 2012 found on The Word Among Us (

“If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)

Every person this side of glory has a problem with forgiveness. But we don’t all have the same problem.

Some of us are unable to receive forgiveness. We are keenly aware of the ways we have sinned and wronged other people. We would desperately love to make amends, but we are afraid that we could never do enough. Harsh words, once spoken, can’t be erased. Destructive actions are irrevocable. We keep beating ourselves up because we feel we don’t deserve to be forgiven. Even when the one we have hurt seems to have moved on, we are still stuck in our guilt.

On the other hand, there are those of us who are unable to give forgiveness. We fasten onto someone’s shortcomings and wrongdoings. We turn them over and over in our minds, magnifying them out of proportion. No apology can ever fully compensate for the pain that person has caused us. Like the servant in today’s parable, we want the wrongdoer locked up until he or she has paid the last penny. Meanwhile, we conveniently forget our own sins—especially the sin of self-righteous judgment.

Of course there is partial truth in both perspectives. None of us “deserves” to be forgiven. That’s why God gives us his free, unmerited grace. And of course, none of us on our own is capable of forgiving as fully as we need to.

But here are two pieces of good news: God forgives us unconditionally, and he gives all of us a share in his forgiving nature. So whichever side you find yourself on, turn around! Take your eyes off wrongdoing, either your own or that of another, and fix your gaze on Jesus. You willfind him smiling at you warmly. Turn from sin and accept God’s forgiveness. Turn from your neighbor’s sin and extend that forgiveness. However unwilling or unworthy you feel, forgiveness is yours for the asking.

With the Psalmist, repeat this wonderful refrain until you begin to believe it.

“God’s mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)


“Father of mercy, you have cast my sins into the sea and forgotten about them! Help me to tap into your unfathomable mercy.”

Other Mass Readings: Ezekiel 12:1-12 Psalm 78:56-59, 61-62

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