Sitting down to work things out with someone who has hurt you is a challenge. In today’s Gospel from Matthew, we hear the story of the slave whose master awards him patience and releases him from his debt. The same slave goes out and ignores the pleas for mercy of those owing him money and throws one into prison. The original master hears about this lack of compassion and calls the wicked slave to him and hands him over to be tortured until the entire debt is repaid.
This is far from a happy tale with a valuable lesson about how God desires us to forgive those who hurt us from our heart. I had an interesting encounter recently. I bumped into someone who I had not seen in years, maybe even a decade or more. As I was leaving where I was she was seated with her back towards me so I gently squeezed her shoulder to greet her. She was surprised. She had heard I was sick and had been praying for me. I caught her up on how I was and then she caught me off guard by asking me to forgive her. Puzzled, I asked her why. She mentioned that she had ignored me for a long time–something I had never noticed. She had been carrying around a heavy burden of anger and resentment for years. I asked her what I had done to trigger her behaviour. Apparently I had not called her when I said I would. I asked for her forgiveness. She said it was not necessary as she owned the whole issue. I told her I was glad she was free of the baggage she had been carrying around.
Our words can heal or hurt. Often we have no idea that we have wounded someone by our words or actions because that was never our intent. All I could think of as I drove away was the number of years that she had carried this around and I felt tremendously sad that I had initiated such a long-standing, heavy weight around her heart. I wished that we had sat down years ago to clear it up. I hope there are not too many other people out there who I have wounded by an act of omission. Lord, have mercy on and patience with me.
Have you ever hung on to something that weighed you down? What would it take to release it?
When have you been called to forgive someone who has wronged you?
Slave to my sins,
I need a Master who
is compassionate beyond my
narrow view to both
forgive and be forgiven.
Teach me, Lord, to
show mercy and love