September 10, 2011


24th Sunday - A

It's not How Often, but How Much

The Gospel passage for this Sunday follows immediately where we left off last week (It was Matthew 18: 15-20)

The reason behind Jesus' demand of forgiveness is the same, namely, for the offender's salvation, even if it is totally his/her fault, as Jesus puts it, "When your brother sins against you" (See commentary for the 23rd Sunday).

One wonders if Peter has not gotten the lesson, or whether he wants a clarification when he asks, beginning with the same phrase, "If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?"

Jesus first answers with a number "seventy-seven times," even though it is impossible to count such a number of times one must forgive. He then responds to Peter's request for clarification with a clarification.

"A single talent was the largest unit of money known in the (ancient) Near East, and ten thousand the largest number. Thus ten thousand talents is our 'billions of dollars.'" Therefore, "it would be impossible for any servant to have such a debt, and even more impossible to ever pay it back." [1]

The lesson, then, is not how often must we forgive, it is how much.

Thus, Jesus ends his parable asking Peter and us to "forgive your brother from your heart."

[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 176.

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