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Meditation for Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

(Dan 3:25, 34-43; Mt 18:21-35)

Forgiveness is one thing we readily expect to receive from God and man, but it is often difficult to give it to others. The prayer of Azariah in the first reading gives an idea the condition of a heart that is in need of forgiveness. He prayed to God not to break His covenant with Israel. He acknowledged their iniquities, saying this has reduced them even in number and brought shame to them before other nations. They are now like sheep without a shepherd, and they can no more offer sacrifices to God, which suppose to bring them God’s mercy. Then, Azariah began to implore for mercy: “Yet with a contrite heart and a humble spirit may we be accepted, as though it were with burnt offerings of rams and bulls…Such may our sacrifice be in your sight this day, and may we wholly follow you…”

Since their sins brought them to such a state that they could not offer the required rams and bulls for their transgressions, Azariah pledged an offering of their hearts to God. “And now with all our hearts we follow you, we fear you and seek your face.” The person that seeks God’s mercy offers his heart to Him like the sacrifice of rams and bulls. By that act with which we ask for mercy we also pledge to be faithful to God. It will be hypocritical to implore God’s mercy without the resolve to worship and obey His commandments. That is why Jesus condemned the unforgiving servant in the parable of today.

His debt of 10,000 talents brought him low before his master, imploring him, “Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” “And out of pity for him the Lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” He ought to have offered his heart to his Lord both in pleading for mercy and in appreciation for the forgiveness of his debt. The immediate sign that he offered his heart thus would be to emulate and reflect the kindness he received. By that act with which he was imploring for mercy, he was equally pledging to be more loyal, and committed to pleasing his Lord. How can he then refuse to treat his fellow servant with the same pattern of mercy his Lord showed him? That means his heart was far; he did not learn the lesson, he did not offer his heart to his Lord!

Unforgiveness is a form of hypocrisy! The servant showed that he did not believe in forgiveness. He needed to be treated according to his heart inclination. “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? Since the Lord God is rich in mercy and forgiveness, let us continue to forgive every hurt from our hearts. Our wine of mercy shall never run dry since His supply of mercy is endless. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Lagos.
Tuesday March 9th, 2021.

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