"And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt." (Matthew 18:27)
There are two dynamics at play here in today’s parable. The first is between the king and the servant and the second is the same servant with a fellow servant.
In the first encounter, the king forgives his servant ten thousand talents which could never be repaid in a lifetime. After this servant is forgiven this inconceivable debt, he encounters another servant who owes him a hundred denarii, or about a hundred days wages. This is something that can be repaid, but the servant has no mercy.
In this parable, the king represents God the Father and the servants represent us. God has forgiven each of us an unimaginable amount of which only Jesus could reconcile us to God. Whenever we go to the sacrament of Reconciliation, we are able to experience that forgiveness and love.
Since we are all made in the image and likeness of God, we are called to imitate God’s mercy and forgiveness. God has forgiven us in great things, so we should forgive one another in small things. If we do not have mercy or forgive each other like the wicked servant, then God will separate us from him forever as the king separates the servant from himself.
When reflecting on this passage in Bible Study, I reflected on self-forgiveness rather than the forgiveness of another. How often do we hold ourselves to standards which we cannot uphold and strangle ourselves much like the forgiven servant strangles his fellow servant?
We know the love that God has for each of us. We must forgive ourselves in order to more perfectly accept God’s love and be free from any debts we think we owe. If we ask, however imperfectly, for forgiveness as shown by the wicked servant, we will be given it. While the guilt of our previous sins may never fully go away, if we’ve gone to Confession, we know that God has forgiven and restored us into right relationship with him.
However often we fall and however often others wrong us, let us strive to forgive not just seven times, but seventy-seven, or an infinite amount, of times.
By Juan Maldonado