Jesus presents the example of the generous king who cancelled the debt of his poor servant. But this same servant, instead of simply being grateful, then went to someone who owed him money and, with threats of violence and prison, demanded full and immediate repayment.
Clearly the servant had not received his master’s overwhelming and generous forgiveness.
So after such an overwhelming gesture of forgiveness from the king in response to the servant’s desperate pleading for mercy, the servant immediately turns harshly on another.
What is missing here?
Well-intentioned preachers often encourage parishioners to forgive others. I have tried to follow their advice calling to mind people who have hurt me or who have harmed those I love. But as hard as I try even the desire to forgive too often eludes me.
This is where the message in today’s gospel is helpful. If I struggle to forgive others, perhaps that is because I have not been grateful for the forgiveness and the love that I have already received.
This is why the practice of gratitude is so central.
These are the thoughts that were on my mind when yesterday afternoon I picked up my uncle to go together to our weekly Adoration visit. When we arrived at the Adoration chapel I struggled to settle. I was pretty restless and (among other things) have been wrestling with a way forward on one matter for the last few days.
As I looked around the little chapel the half dozen others looked to be floating in the heights of peaceful contemplation. From my view it seemed as though Jack had focussed within ten seconds which seemed unfair after the lively conversation he had initiated on the twenty-minute drive to the church!
After ten minutes I became more settled.
Then, a couple of minutes later someone started to play the organ in the church next door. They were practicing, not a gentle sacred piece but the old piano hit “Remembrance“, repeating the tricky arpeggio bars over and over again to get it right.
I felt annoyed. My plans for the peaceful hour were disrupted.
My annoyance grew in the next minutes until I gave my problem to Jesus asking for a miracle. In that situation the kind of miracle I expect (and pray for) is a power cut to silence the organ.
But something quite unexpected happened.
It took me a while to remember that the music I was hearing and recognising was called “Remembrance.” And so I started to remember.
I remembered places, moments, events, circumstances, problems, hopes…
… and in every remembrance there were people, people I loved, people who got up my nose, people I didn’t understand, people who had done harm and more people I loved and who loved me.
People. People. People.
He tangata, He tangata. He tangata.
And then I was surprised to find that some of those who had created problems for me had been instruments of God leading me to greater maturity of faith.
And these memories led me to be grateful.
Grateful for all those who have loved me in the past and who love me today.
Grateful that Jesus has led me through all the ups and downs of my life.
Grateful for the people who have no time for me at all, since they keep me humble and drive me to Christ.
And for the next half hour, while Remembrance played in the background, I was grateful.
- As you are sitting, thinking, walking, working, driving today, remember and savour the people, events etc that you are grateful for. Return to these memories often during the day and practicing and savouring gratitude.
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