The Limitless Nature of Forgiveness: Reflections on Matthew 18:21-35

Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “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. 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 to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, 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 the loan. 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. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and 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 anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”


Forgiveness is an essential aspect of our Christian faith. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us about the importance of forgiveness and the consequences of withholding it from others. Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, and Jesus responds with the number seventy-seven, emphasizing the limitless nature of forgiveness.

Jesus then tells a parable about a king who forgives a servant’s enormous debt, but the servant does not extend the same forgiveness to a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller amount. The king then punishes the unforgiving servant for his lack of mercy.

This parable reminds us that we have been forgiven much by God, and we are called to extend that forgiveness to others. We must not hold grudges or seek revenge but instead show mercy and compassion to those who have wronged us. Forgiveness can be difficult, but it is essential for our own spiritual growth and well-being.

In today’s world, forgiveness can be especially challenging, given the many conflicts and divisions that exist in society. However, as Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to extend forgiveness even in the face of great harm.


Dear Jesus, we pray for the grace to forgive those who have wronged us. Help us to extend the same mercy and compassion that you have shown us. We pray for those who struggle to forgive, that they may find healing and peace in your love. We ask for the strength to be peacemakers in a world that is often marked by division and conflict. May we extend your love and forgiveness to all those we encounter. Amen.

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