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The parable shows the condition by which we can have our sins forgiven. Christ says we must forgive seventy times seven times--His way of saying “forever.” Then Christ gives this parable to illustrate why it should be so: A king settled his accounts with one of his officials who owed him a huge amount. Unable to pay, the official and his entire family was to be punished. But the official begged for a postponement of payment. Moved with pity, the king not only allowed him a postponement of payment but completely liquidated his debts.

Then, a fellow servant who owed the official a small amount begged for a postponement, too. But the merciless official had him punished. Hearing what his official had done, the king called the official and had all his debts restored and gave him over to the torturers. Then Christ warns us, “My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

The official symbolizes us who have sinned grievously against God and are completely unable to make up for our sins. God not only gives us an extension for our debt-payment but completely erases our debts, i.e., if, like the official, we begged humbly for forgiveness. But the forgiveness God has given us is conditional, in that, it only becomes permanent if we forgive others.

The fellow servant symbolizes those around us who have sinned against us. There are two kinds of sins: sins against God, of which only God can forgive, like adultery, and there are sins against man. We are to forgive sins against man only. We cannot forgive sins against God. So the sin of adultery, though the spouse had forgiven her spouse a hundred times, can only be forgiven by God. In the parable, we must forgive all sins man committed against us…if, like the fellow servant, they ask for forgiveness. If our enemies don’t ask for forgiveness, we must still forgive them in our hearts but must not show it externally, since they might think that they have already repented. From the parable, we must forgive all sins committed against man if the sinner, like the fellow servant in the parable, asks for forgiveness.

If we are not able to forgive sins against man committed against us, how can we ask God to forgive our sins against God…which are more serious. Just like the king in the parable, God threatens us that if we cannot forgive the small debts of our neighbors, He will restore all our former debts (i.e. the guilt of all our former sins that seemingly had been forgiven) and will again demand payment for all our previous sins…which will be impossible for us to pay. This is condemning us to a life of punishment in hell. In short, we will find ourselves with all our previous sins back in our souls. The parable is clear on this. The king demanded back the debt which he had forgiven the official.

Then Christ, ends by saying: you have to do exactly the same thing if you must have your sins forgiven. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us… (not those who have sinned against God). Sirach says: Wrath and anger are hateful things yet the sinner hugs them. The Lord will remember the sins of the vengeful. Forgive your neighbor’s sins so when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. Hate not your neighbors and overlook their faults.







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