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I had to buy a birthday card. I came back and looked at the receipt which said that my change was $1.59. They only gave me 59 cents. I didn’t want to go back to the store to get the right change, so I let it go. Then I went to the drive-thru to get a burger with ketchup only. I got a burger with mustard, pickles, and onions instead. I could have gone back to return the burger, but I let it go. Then I was driving and I was hoping to catch the green light. Someone cut me off and I missed it. I let it go. I let it go because it was a onetime offense. What if it happened seven times? What if I was cut off seven times, did not get the right change seven times, and they gave me the wrong order seven times? I may think twice about being a nice guy. I tell you this because I can understand Peter’s concern. He states the problem well. How many times do we have to forgive? Seven? Peter is basically stating that it is hard to forget. Jesus tells him, “I will make it even harder: 77 times.” This is not the first time Jesus makes it hard on us. He tells us to love our enemy and pray for our persecutors. He tells us to turn the other cheek when we are slapped and insulted, and we are to give up our jacket to the person who takes our shirt. Why is Jesus so hard on us? Transforming the world is not easy. Making a difference in the world is hard. Achieving greatness is never easy.
That is why Jesus offers a parable. There was a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One servant owed ten thousand talents. What is a talent? One talent is the equivalent of 15 years of pay. Take 15 years of your salary and multiply it by 10,000 and you are close to the national debt of a small nation. Let’s say I am the servant who owes the king this huge amount. I beg him not to send me to prison, that there is another option. In addition to my day job, I will work nights and weekends and shovel the money into the king’s account for however long it takes to pay it back. He has mercy on me and forgives the debt. At that moment the heavy burden that I have been carrying all this time has been lifted. I can sleep at night. I am free. I am so happy that I want to share this great feeling. Someone else needs to feel this joy. I go over to my co-worker and tell him. “Remember the loan I gave you? You do not have to pay it back. I don’t need it. I don’t have to pay off my debt.” Now he is really happy. He wants to share the joy. He walks across the street to his neighbor and knocks on the door and tells him, “Remember the car I loaned you. Keep it. I do not need to sell it to pay off my debt.” Now the neighbor is happy and goes off to share the joy. Before you know it, the world is transformed
Let me ask this question. Are you happy about having a relationship with God? Do you not appreciate His forgiveness and feeling the burden lifted from your life? Are you not ecstatic about having eternal life? Well, get out there and share the feeling. Let someone else feel what it is like to have the burden lifted from their shoulders; let someone else feel what it is like to be saved. Forgiving others is not easy. Achieving greatness is never easy. That is why it is great.Back to All Homilies