Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Jesus shook his head and looked directly at Peter. “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.”
Before Jesus continued his story, he turned to address the large crowd of people that also wanted to hear what he said.
“When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him sold … in payment of the debt.”
Jesus noticed that many of the people were leaning forward. They hoped they would never be sold off in order to pay one of their debts, and they wanted to know what was going to happen.
“At that, he servant fell down … and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him of the loan.” Smiles brightened the faces of many of the listeners. How wonderful it must feel to be relieved of a large debt.
But Jesus had not finished telling his story. “When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ “Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.”
Jesus paused and looked at the people in the crowd. “Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they … went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in his anger his master handed him over to the (jailers).”
Jesus again looked at the many faces that were watching him. “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
READ MORE ABOUT IT:
1. What was Peter’s question for Jesus?
2. Why was the master angry with the servant he had forgiven?
When we were young, our parents had us baptized, then brought us to church and religious-education classes. We should start to think about how we can serve in the church as we grow up. We can be ushers, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, lectors or religious-education teachers. We could also sing in the choir or serve on one our church’s committees. All of these are examples of lay ministry. A very special way of serving God is through religious vows or ordination. Sisters and brothers serve in religious communities in ministries from teaching, nursing, working in a parish or spending many hours each day in prayer. The ordained ministers are deacons, priests and bishops. They lead our churches and dioceses and they preach and administer the sacraments to us. Let us ask God how we can serve him, and let us pray that more men will become priests.
Corbinian (725-765) lived a reclusive religious life for many years near a chapel in his native country of France. He gained a reputation as a devout servant of the Lord, and several miracles were attributed to him. He founded a small community of religious who wanted to follow his example. He moved to Rome to seek an audience with Pope Gregory II for a more solitary assignment. The pope sent him to Bavaria, and he converted many people to Christianity there. Since he criticized Grimoald, one of his patrons, for not following the church’s teachings, he had to go into hiding for his safety. Eventually, he was able to come out of hiding and continue his ministry in Bavaria. We honor him on Sept. 8.